Sunday, 2 February 2014

Regarding more sad news, more tough days and once again finding hope and joy in unexpected places.

I never expected that I would have to write another piece like this so soon. Why would you? thankfully tragedy is not something that touches schools very often. Despite what you might read in the press school's are vibrant, joyful places where we laugh an awful lot. Yes there are plenty of challenging days, but we knew that when we signed up to be teachers! What probably takes us all by surprise are the unexpected ways that working at school actually makes us laugh out loud. I'm still trying to come to terms with the way year 7 pupils have recently decided to work around our policy to not let them off school premises during lunchtime by emulating the 6th form and ordering in Domino's pizza. Responding to that one wasn't part of head teacher training! Should I be outraged at the flouting of school rules or just laugh at the sheer audacity of it all?

Will Paynter was exactly the type of pupil who would have been on the phone to order a pizza in year 7. When I heard the awful news that he had passed away after a tragic accident I was  utterly numbed by the sheer unfairness of it all. Will was a proper "all-rounder" academically talented but also someone who contributed to school life in general. Always willing to stop and chat Will was was quick to make a joke or humorous comment. In some ways he summed up the ethos of pupils at LSP, that laissez-faire, "it will be ok in the end so stop stressing" casualness that infuriates and amuses staff in equal measure. One of Will's A-level teachers Mr Baker, summed this up with an anecdote about his somewhat dubious work ethic.
"Look sir if I work half as hard as Farr I'll work twice as hard as I would normally, so dont stress"
Will went to achieve an A grade at A level in Maths so I guess he was right! Not only was he academically able he was a hugely a popular student with a large group of friends and was a real "life and soul of the party" character. We will remember him as someone who made the most of life and also made the most of himself. All our lives will be lessened by his absence.

The staff took news of William's passing very hard. So soon after tragically losing Josh Woodyatt it was almost too much to bear. We talked about how hard we have to fight for our pupils, how hard it is to overcome the disadvantages they face in life, how we support them through all the challenges that face them and how if we get them through A-levels and on to university we pat ourselves on the back and quite rightly see it as evidence of a job well done. We have set that student on the right path, it validates the very reason we became teachers in the first place. To have that taken away from us so soon after this young man had left our care is shatteringly unfair.

Typically staff at LSP pulled together, focussed on the future, began to discuss another memorial service and planting another memorial tree, began to think of ways to get people smiling again. As a headteacher there can be no stronger source of pride than seeing your team pull together in the face of adversity, to see your team shake off the sadness and look with hope to the future. It is an unexpected source of  joy.

More comfort came from the tributes that were paid to Will on our facebook page, (Official Lewis School Pengam). Some people in education can be a bit sniffy about the role of social media. All I can say in response to that is that it has been a great source of comfort to us over the last few tough weeks. Our tribute to Will has been viewed by close to 6000 people, hundreds of people have taken time to "like" or make a comment. This is testament to the calibre of the young man that we helped mould and to the strength of the community that LSP serves. How can you not be bouyed by that?

Finally I have to pay a massive tribute to Will's mother, Mrs Williams. Just like the parents of Josh Woodyatt she has borne this terrible tragedy with strength, dignity and (unbelievably) an unmistakably "Will Paynter" sense of humour . When I phoned her this week I was utterly amazed at how anyone could exhibit such strength at such an awful time, how even in the midst of grief and sadness, happiness can be found. She actually made me laugh out loud with her recollections of Will. I had called to offer consolation and unexpectedly found myself being consoled. This weekend Mrs Williams posted the message below on our Facebook page:
"Thank you Chris for what I believe to be a very fitting tribute to my beautiful, wonderful boy and to those who knew us for your lovely comments. I couldn't have wished for a better son, I adored him; there was nothing about him I would have changed and although I would have loved to have had him for longer, I have cherished every second of his 18 years and feel truly blessed to have been his mum".
I'm sure like me that you'll have to read that through the blur of a few tears, but I can think of no more fitting tribute to the love that we bear for our children, whether they are our own or we just get to care for them for a few hours each day in school.

In Henry Thornton Wilder's "The Bridge of San Luis Rey" the main character reflects on the lives of several people who had been lost in a tragic accident, he discusses the purpose and meaning of life and reaches this conclusion.
“We ourselves shall be loved for a while and forgotten. But the love will have been enough; all those impulses of love return to the love that made them. Even memory is not necessary for love. There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.” 
I think that about sums it up. Sleep well Will, you were loved and we won't forget you.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

The rise and rise of cyber bullying, self-harm and depression

This week Childline produced a report that highlighted an increase in the number of children contacting it with concerns about online bullying. In 2012 there were 4,507 cases of cyberbullying reported, up from 2,410 in 2011-12.

Does that fit in with our experiences at LSP? Unfortunately it probably does. Although we remind pupils that negative comments made on Facebook, Snapchat or other social media can be hugely upsetting, just like every other school we still have to deal with a steady stream of cases of bullying that more often than not involve an online element. What particularly concerns me is just how unpleasant comments made online can be (just ask Tom Daley), the barrier of the computer screen seems to allow individuals to make statements they would never dare to use on the school yard, what's worse these comments can be read over and over again by the recipient, the damage done can be unbelievable.

The consequences for someone experiencing online bullying can be devastating. Although not solely caused by online bullying I feel it is no coincidence that Childline has seen an increase in concerns about self-harm, depression and anxiety. During 2012-13, Childline counselled 278,886 children and teenagers. The charity also handled 10,961 cases where a young person raised concerns about another child. We have a counsellor in school every Wednesday and she does an amazing job, we could easily fill her time every day of the week.

Take self-harm as an example, Childline notes that the number of instances have steadily increased over the years and is now affecting children at a younger age. For example, in 2011-12, 470 12-year-old girls contacted the charity about self-harming, but this rose to 700 in 2012-13. The same can definitely be said of boys. Unheard of when I started teaching in the mid 90's self-harm is now a common occurrence, although self harm can be a bit "faddish" we would typically deal with several cases a term and supporting pupils takes up a significant amount of the time of our pastoral team
Even more worrying Childline reported that 29,163 children and teenagers mentioned feeling suicidal, up from 22,006 in the previous year.

I believe that such feelings of despair can again, in part, be linked back to the fact the young people today are part of an online "multi-screen" generation, they can communicate with each other more than ever before, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Xbox live, the list goes on and on, and yet this interconnectedness involves very little face to face contact. I can't help but think that we are losing a certain amount of "social capital" as young people spend less time in each others company. In this world it seems very easy to become isolated and lonely, a young person may have hundreds of Facebook "friends" but how many of them are really there for them? The internet is a wonderful thing, without it I wouldn't be communicating with you now, but perhaps we need to monitor the influence it's having.

What else can we do to support young people? Peter Wanless of the NSPCC said" If we are to help young people we need to listen to what they are telling us” That has always been the case at  Lewis and I'm confident that when issues are reported to us we can not only support individuals with their concerns but we can also effectively deal with specific instances of online harassment.

Parents also need to play a part, we all need to understand that the problems facing young people today are very different to the issues we faced as children, we may have to deal with nasty comments on the school yard but I doubt any of us were subjected to persistent bullying by letter! Yet our children may face comments being made to them online every single night of the week, in such circumstances there is no escape. Bullying like this shouldn't be dismissed as part of growing up, it absolutely should not be tolerated and I would urge any parent with concerns to contact us in school.

Finally let's make sure we continue to highlight the excellent work that Childline, NSPCC and other similar charities do every day. They have given young people today a voice, and a mechanism to express their worries. Long may it continue!

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

A tough day

It's been an incredibly difficult day at LSP. Staff and pupils have been deeply saddened by the tragic news that year 12 pupil Josh Woodyatt had passed away during the Christmas holidays. Josh was a likeable and popular student, he was a larger than life character and the type of boy who would never walk by without a smile and a hello. Talented in drama and music he will be very much missed by everyone in our family at LSP. 

The funeral today was as distressing as you would expect. It was quite rightly pointed out that there is something inherently wrong with the idea that parents should have to say goodbye to a beloved child. Josh's family bore their grief today with such dignity and I hope at some point they will be able to take comfort in that fact that so many turned out to pay their respects.

I'm always writing about how proud I am of the pupils at school, but the way current and ex pupils demonstrated their maturity and empathy today provided a little glimpse of sunshine on a very dark day. Clearly I am very lucky to be part of a community that cares so much about one of its own.  

Pupils have also expressed a desire to raise money for a permanent memorial to Josh at LSP and I hope very much that we will be able to provide something appropriate in the near future.

In the meantime I would like to extend my heartfelt sympathies to Josh's family and friends. He will ever be present in my thoughts and those of so many others who have made LSP their home over recent years. 

I'll leave you with some words from Henry Wandsworth Longfellow which seem appropriate this evening

"Good-night! good-night! as we so oft have said
Beneath this roof at midnight, in the days
That are no more, and shall no more return.
Thou hast but taken up thy lamp and gone to bed;
I stay a little longer, as one stays
To cover up the embers that still burn".

RIP Josh, may your sleep be sound.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Good school / Bad school: PISA, banding and how real life concerns tend to put everything in context

I've been a bit lax in my blogging duties of late but with so many exciting things happening in school I suppose it's understandable that time is occasionally short. Every time I write a blog I'm reminded how much I enjoy it, I spot a definite New Year's resolution in the making!

Over the last few weeks there have been some huge news stories that can't go without comment so I've dragged myself out of my blogging hibernation for a bit of a rant!

First came PISA, the press had been trailing this story for a while, so the furore was entirely predictable when news broke that Wales had slipped further down the international rankings with regards to performance in English, maths and science. LSP had been one of the school's that had taken part in the survey, pupil's were randomly selected by the OECD and they undertook a number of tests in the Spring term. I was extremely proud of the attitude every single one of our pupils exhibited towards the test and I know they took it very seriously. As a school we get no feedback on how those pupils did on that day. So we don't know how we contributed to the overall picture for Wales, given our record exam results this summer I would be hopeful that we did well.

As a result of our involvement I paid particular attention to the somewhat hysterical debate that ensued and have tried to draw a few conclusions.

Firstly although PISA does allow us to compare learner outcomes with those of other countries I think it is dangerous to extrapolate this into comparisons of entire education systems. To do so is reductionist and overly simplistic. For example though China tops the league tables, only schools in Shanghai took the tests and I wonder how some of the more rural areas would have fared?

A quote from China Daily shows the Chinese interpretation of PISA
"Chinese people rarely have any illusions about the quality of education in China, and the PISA results are often dismissed or laughed at. Critics of the existing education system have become increasingly vocal in calling attention to the entrenched problems, such as the lack of citizenship and life skills training, the emphasis on rote learning, and the long hours students spend studying compared to their international peers. Few people bask in the glory of Shanghai's PISA performance" 
in some other countries there is significantly more investment in the education system. Have a look at the article below the explains Canada's summer school programme. How well do you think Welsh learners would do with similar levels of investment?

Moving away from some of the geo political considerations there are also some real concerns for me at a local level. As a school we never find out how pupil's PISA results so there's no diagnostic purpose to the tests. Do we need to improve? what areas should we focus on? Are we making progress? We simply don't know. Ultimately PISA is misunderstood and misinterpreted by the media, politicians and sometimes (understandably) parents. It would seem that PISA has allowed individual schools and their teaching methods to be criticised. learners at LSP may have scored significantly above the Wales average but I simply don't know. As a head teacher I am very much focussed on improving the way our school is perceived locally and it seems to me that PISA could dangerously undermine confidence not just in the Welsh education system but in my school itself, yet I cannot contest this.

Finally I know this may seem like I'm stating the obvious but doing well in a PISA test isn't going to get you into college, or into university or get you a job. You don't get a certificate to say you've passed. I understand that as a head teacher I have a contribution to make to the overall health of the Welsh education system but my bread and butter is always going to be providing high quality teaching that allows pupils to pass external examinations at 16 and 18. EVERYTHING else takes second place to this.

So how do we move forward?

a) Prepare pupils for the test  - To some extent the Welsh government is already doing this. There has been talk of including more PISA type questions in examinations from 2015. I find this slightly ironic given the suggestion the secondary schools are often accused of gaming the system in order to improve banding positions etc. It now looks like our government is planning to do something similar on a global scale. Whatever the motivation such moves will undoubtedly have an impact.

b) Challenge the nature of the debate in the media - Everyone involved in education should be prepared to explain at length the part PISA plays within their own sphere of influence.  PISA does after all provide a wealth of useful information and I think many of us do believe that there should be an increased focus on maths and English. However we should stress that PISA is just one source of evidence amongst many. We should be using ALL the available sources of information to help us decide how to make progress.

Ultimately, Welsh government has decided that improving our international standing is a political game worth playing. This is understandable, but as PISA continues to be such a political hot potato with all the attached hoopla of national pride it's benefit will continue to be skewed. Think of it this way, does anyone think the Eurovision song contest is the best indicator of musical talent? Clearly some nations do and they seemed to have invested a huge amount effort into improving their standing. The winner of the Eurovision song contest in 2012 and 2013 were Scandinavian (ironically Scandinavian countries seem to be successful in all sorts of league tables!) Over the same period Adele sold over 20 million records. Actually in 2012, two of the three top selling albums globally were by British artists (Adele and One direction). If we asked the public to chose between Eurovision song contest winners and global chart toppers who do you think they would see as the most successful? Similarly with regards to education would a parent really want their child educated in China, with the long hours and loss of personal liberty that entail? I'll take Adele and UK education thanks.

Then as if this wasn't a big enough story we got hit with banding too!

Everyone at LSP was obviously delighted at the news that Lewis School Pengam had improved to band 3 according to the Welsh Government’s banding system for secondary schools. Such excellent progress was undoubtedly due to the huge amount of work and effort that pupils, parents and staff had put into improving the school over the last 18 months. What was particularly gratifying was the fact that that underlying data shows we were only one point away from being in band 2. This was all the more remarkable when you consider that this method of judging schools did not take into consideration how girls currently do much better than boys. An all boys school should, in theory, always suffer by comparison with mixed schools. The fact that we have outperformed almost half the mixed schools in Wales shows how far this school has come, LSP is a school that everyone can be extremely proud of, I know am. Even more exciting is that I know we will do even better in the future.

However surely parents are confused, if banding is supposed to give them an indication of how well their local school is doing, how must they feel when the system seems so volatile? What if a parent moved a child to a different local school as it was trumpeted as being band 1, only to see them crash to a band 4 the following year? Especially when such changes may be attributed to comparatively small changes in exam results. Perhaps we're victims of our own tendency to over celebrate success in our schools. The banding system was always likely to be volatile and a little less hubris may have been appropriate when we saw how our school's fared. In future a more balanced response to banding outcomes and a willingness to be transparent in discussions of the relative strengths and weaknesses of our schools may allow parents to make more informed decisions.

Also I'm a little concerned that Welsh Government allocates funding based on banding. Ferndale Community school is making all the headlines as it moved from band 5 to band 1. It is my old school and my nephews currently attend there, its improvement as a school has provoked a huge amount of community pride and quite rightly so. Sitting at the top of the Rhondda Valley it is obviously an area that sees high levels of social deprivation. As a school in band 5 or 4 it would have received significant financial support in its efforts to improve. Is the school any less deserving of that now? Another school in a less deprived community may have fallen down the league tables as result of a variety of factors, not least that although they have a high proportion of learners passing exams, their results have plateaued. I applaud the Welsh Governments decision to try to challenge the good school that is "coasting" but would that school really need additional resources and funding? Should that school receive funding over a school like Ferndale?

Again I believe that Welsh government is moving in the right direction and banding is providing useful information to school's and stimulating improvement. I know in our school we have seen a significant increase in the number of pupils passing both maths and English GCSE  at grade C and above, that is undoubtedly in part due to the increased significance Welsh government has put on schools achieving this threshold. Now its time to apply the same rigour to a much wider array of indicators that can evidence a school's success. Not that we ever needed reminding, but schools should not be seen as exam factories. The awful news from Pembroke this week highlighted how we deal with the most precious and fragile of things. The hopes, dreams and life chances of young people.  I would personally like to pass on my deepest condolences to everyone touched by that tragedy. Such a terrible thing is every parent and head teacher's worse nightmare. It should remind us that our core purpose in school is a moral one and it is not our job not to appease politicians by meeting their demands for improvements in silly season statistics or questionable international league tables. Our job is to care for and nurture every person who walks through the gate of our school. Our job is to give of our best in terms of supporting emotional wellbeing as well as academic standards. If we do this then our pupils will thrive and achieve. Ultimately these are the only quality indicators I'm concerned about, and that's why I couldn't be more proud of our school.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Headteacher's comment: LSP improves to band 3

Everyone at LSP is obviously delighted at the news that Lewis School Pengam has improved to band 3 according to the Welsh Government’s banding system for secondary schools. Such excellent progress is undoubtedly due to the huge amount of work and effort that pupils, parents and staff have put into improving the school over the last 18 months. What is particularly gratifying is the fact that that underlying data shows we were only one point away from being in band 2. This is all the more remarkable when you consider that this method of judging schools does not take into consideration how girls currently do much better than boys. An all boys school should, in theory, always suffer by comparison with mixed schools. The fact that we are outperforming almost half the mixed schools in Wales shows how far this school has come, LSP is a school that everyone can be extremely proud of, I know am. Even more exciting is that I know we will do even better in the future. Well done everybody!

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Parents, perception and why communication (spelt correctly!) really matters

This week we had our "open evening" for pupils in year 5 and year 6. This a very important event in any school's calendar but seemed particularly important for me as a new head teacher. After all this would be my first real opportunity to meet parents and try to get across to them my vision for the school. As I explained on the night this involves lots of "blue sky thinking" since public perception seems always to be a bit of an issue for LSP. Many people seem to have some very entrenched views of what a boys school must be like, LSP is a school that rightly takes pride in its heritage but change is something that any successful institution needs to embrace and that is something everyone at LSP acknowledges. Events like the one on Thursday allow us to begin to break down any negative public perception and replace it with a better understanding of the inspirational, dynamic and extraordinary place I know the "new" LSP to be. the challenge of maintaining our links to the past whilst at the same time moving forward to even better things is something I'm very excited about

The build up to the open evening had been particularly pleasing and enjoyable for me. In order to spread the word I took our wonderfully talented year 11 band "the Baileys" on a tour of some of our nearby primary schools. As you would expect they were a huge hit with everyone and the visits showed yet again the importance of our excellent relationships with local schools. The visit to Greenhill was particularly emotional for the boys (some of whom attended that school) with family members coming to watch and some fantastic audience participation (see below). I'm very much looking forward to more visits like this in the future.

The open evening itself was a great opportunity to show off the school and I would like to thank everyone who helped out. It was fantastic to see so many staff giving up their own time to promote the school and even more pleasing to see the large numbers of pupils who volunteered to stay behind to answer any questions and generally help out. I really believe its a sign of a really healthy school community when everyone pitches in like this, the pictures below hopefully allow you to get a flavour what went on.

Drama and Music

RE and History


My presentation that night had focussed on the need to work with parents so we could give them the school that they wanted to see. We talked about the importance of communication (for anyone at the event -  yes I CAN spell this word and I corrected it later like all good students do!) and how word of mouth on social media platforms like twitter and facebook is  really important for us. It was therefore really pleasing that following the event we had so many lovely message of support and appreciation from the hundreds of parents who attended. 

"Thank you for a lovely open evening last night. I was really impressed and after visiting a few different high schools in the area I was more impressed with LSP with what you have to offer and the achievements of the students"

Perhaps even more important than the praise we received was the opportunity for me to chat with parents as they walked around the school. One thing I'm very pleased about at LSP is the fact that we have a community of partners that can in no way be described as shrinking violets! I had one particularly in-depth conversation with a parent about homework, we covered so much ground on this issue that i think it will need a blog to itself! it also meant that I spent much of Friday discussing our strategy for homework and I hope that parents will see different approaches to this issue in the very near future.

All in all the event re-inforced my belief that LSP is very much a school at the heart of its community, this is the real reason for the recent significant progress we have made. We need to continue to develop ways to be keep up a constant "conversation" with parents. This conversation can take place online or face to face but what is important is that happens more regularly. I've never really understood why a secondary school can't have a the same relationship with parents as a primary school does. I know we don't really see parents at the "school gate" but couldn't facebook or twitter be our online school gate?  Only by working in partnership with you will we be able to develop a school that has aspirations beyond even the most optimistic members of our community. Perhaps then we can finally begin to embrace the realities and opportunities of a New Lewis School Pengam and moving forward together.

If you would like to apply join us at LSP:

a) Pop into school anytime to pick up an application form (if you have any questio
ns, queries or concerns please contact us tel: 01443 873873 or email:


b) Contact admissions at CBC offices by tel:01443 864870 or email:


c) apply on line (click on the link below)

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Another day another league table

After a rocky start, yesterday turned out to be a very, very good day. LSP hosted the Royal Welsh after their march through Bargoed. Our head student Richard Cushion compared proceedings at Hanbury square brilliantly, the entertainment provided by LSP pupils was absolutely fantastic and several dignitaries commented on the generosity and helpfulness of our staff.

However, the day hadn't started so well. The Western Mail had published league tables that morning, supposedly this was in order to provide parents with an insight into how well schools in their area are performing. LSP was placed tenth in a mini league of schools in Caerphilly, as you would expect I was not pleased.

I thought long and hard about blogging about this. Anything written would inevitably be open to accusations of bias or defensiveness or an element of "well he would say that wouldn't he!" Even more importantly I wouldn't want any criticism to be taken as a suggestion that other school's did not deserve a particular position. As a new head teacher I have been incredibly impressed by the collegiate ethos of the Caerphilly head teachers, I know that every school locally works incredibly hard for their pupils and I would wish success for every one of them. Nevertheless I cannot let the Western Mail's article pass without a response, so here it goes!

Let me start by saying that I have no objection to league tables, it is always a good thing to judge yourself against other schools, there is always room for improvement at LSP and as the head teacher I'm always looking for new ideas that will help us do better. However, there are several things that concern me with current developments

  • There now so many ways of judging schools that the outcome can only be confusion. Currently there is family of school data, banding, the Western Mail's league table and on top of that schools are expected to evaluate their own performance against other schools. All of these often use different criteria to decide how well a school is doing. How are parents supposed to understand what are the most relevant or accurate judgements? 
  • League tables like the one in the Western Mail reflect prior performance. (in this case performance in 2012) This is a snapshot of school performance that when published is over a year out of date. The pupil's whose performance it refers to are now studying A' levels in year 13. I'm sure all headteachers would agree that schools can change massively in that period of time. We were very happy with our performance in 2012 but since then we have made huge progress. A league table that reflects our results in 2013 would probably look very different. Would that make me happy? Not at all! It would still only be a snapshot. What matters is the trend in performance for a school over 3 to 5 years, something that is certainly true of LSP.
  • For everyone concerned with LSP league tables are always frustrating because we are being compared to MIXED school. Most people are currently aware of the gap in performance between boys and girls. It is simply a reality that girls far out perform boys particularly in subjects like English. To compare a school that only has boys to a mixed schools is like trying to compare apples and pears, they are simply not the same. Despite the fact that our results often outstrip those for boys in even the most successful schools, the presence of girls means that those schools will usually edge ahead of us in their overall results. If we had a few hundred girls at LSP I'm sure our results would look even better but that's a topic for a different blog!
  • This particular league table also refers to pupil behaviour as way of judging a school's performance. I totally agree. This can be a very useful way to judge how well a school is doing. Although once again there is an issue here for a boys school, exclusion rates for boys far outstrip those for girls. Once again it is impossible to compare a boys school to a mixed school without taking that fact into account. Nevertheless, schools with low exclusion rates tend to have pupils who are more likely to be literate, engaged in innovative lessons and have excellent relationships with teachers. However, the Western Mail uses attendance data to make this judgement? It argues that persistence non-attendance is an indicator of poor behaviour. This could certainly be the case but I would argue persistent non-attendance is far more likely to be caused by severe medical issues, anxiety / depression or profound problems for a pupil at home. These pupils can often be amongst the best behaved in a school!
By about 2 o'clock yesterday I'd begun to calm down. I was, after all, spending a day at a school at the heart of its community. A school that was taking immense pride in hosting an event for soldiers who had sacrificed so much for the wellbeing of our young people. That those young people were actually able to sit down to eat a meal with them seemed particularly poignant. As a result, of all the images I'll remember from that day, the one below will always strike a chord with me.

When I look at this, I know that this group of year 7 pupils will, without doubt, have a future at LSP that will of course include passing exams and improving their literacy and numeracy skills. But perhaps more importantly they will feel safe, they will build life long friendships, they will smile a lot (something not to be under estimated!) and they will know that they are part of a family that values their contribution. 

So bring on the league tables of the future! I have no doubt that they will start to show how much we are growing as a school. Luckily, like any good gardener I can tell the health of the my school just by spending time in it. I don't have to pull up the roots every five minutes to check how its doing!  No league table can ever beat that first hand knowledge and no league table is ever going alter my opinion that the most important things that take place at LSP, just like the meal taking place above, are the things that nobody ever bothers to measure.