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.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Life begins at 40...

There's nothing like a "big" birthday to make you reflect on your past and even feel a bit nostalgic. Given that my office was full of "happy 40th" banners and balloons on Friday I didn't have much choice! I'm probably getting a bit old for birthday presents but for a Rhondda Fach boy our senior rugby team's rout of Treorchy on Thursday certainly felt like a great gift. I even had a few "mr Chips" moments as I walked around the place, although there are definitely less straw boaters at LSP than in that famous film (see below), so many pupils were wishing me happy birthday on Friday that it felt a bit Hollywood!

I have very fond memories of my own time in school, I think most teachers do, it's probably why we all end up working within the education system. My school, Ferndale Comprehensive, may have been a bit rough and ready around the edges but it was was always very much a community school, you were supported in whatever you chose to do and in return there was always an expectation that you supported others. Relationships between staff and pupils were incredibly strong and although we are all guilty of wearing rose tinted glasses when we look back on the past, I do remember laughing a lot during my time there. 

I'm very proud of the fact that LSP is a school cut from the same cloth. Hearing the "young lions" of year 7 singing Katy Perry's "roar" certainly put a huge grin on everyone's face this week (see below, I think it should become our theme tune!) So did a conversation I had with a year 11 pupil about how we were going to use a "litter picker" to rescue the glasses he had dropped down a drain! Even when there were challenges, we worked to overcome them as team. School, pupil's and parents working together, this is how things should be

Even though LSP has always been this type of school. I realised this week that I have spent nearly half my life (and practically all my adult working life) in this place and in reality much has changed. In assembly this week I had told year 11 that when I started working at LSP I was playing games on a playstation 1, I had a mobile phone the size of a house brick, and perhaps most importantly I had hair. So much has changed since then (and I don't only mean hair loss!) LSP is now a school with cutting edge technology available to pupils, it has support structures that are ever more developed, with learning support assistants, counsellors, health professionals and other agencies working together to support pupils. Most importantly teachers now know what works in the classroom. When I started at LSP 3 out of every 4 pupils did not achieve 5 good GCSE passes, now over 8 out of ten pupils do.

So with so much good going on, what's there left to do? As ever, the answer to this is lots! We still need pupils to work even harder and achieve even more than those that have gone before, particularly with regard to English and maths. We still need to get everyone in this community to recognise what a great school LSP actually is, and to do this we need to constantly sell the message about what LSP is all about. 

In a birthday card I received from a fantastic family member this week there was this quote from John Wesley

“Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”

Given that my life is apparently starting again at 40 I think that's a pretty good message to be going on with, Don't you?

Sunday, 8 September 2013

First Week Back - A Family reunited

The first week back at school always seems to fly by so quickly. (I'm sure that's not just the case for new head teachers!). Long summer days seem a distant memory within hours of starting back, and the reality of "getting back into a routine" provides a welcome shock to the system (although I assume teenagers getting up at 7am for the first time in weeks would not agree). Schools are always action packed places but the first week takes this to a whole new level. At any one time this week we have been helping new members of staff settle in (4 new teachers, a new assistant head teacher and a new member of our office), enrolling huge numbers of 6th form students, helping year 11 to complete their Welsh baccalaureate, and most importantly supporting all our new (very excited) year 7 pupils  as they become part of our family.

That word family may not seem the right one to use when talking about a school, but at  LSP that's exactly what it feels like. What always amazes me is that despite all the activity in the first week there always seems time to renew those bonds that hold us together as a community, the only thing you really can compare it to is the biggest family re-union you can imagine. Everyone seems to be bonding!  Teachers are busy re-establishing professional links with colleagues and parents, pupils are busy re-aquainting themselves with friends (for whom 6 weeks off may as well be a lifetime) and most importantly the strong relationships that have always existed between pupils and teachers at LSP are re-established. I've lost count of the amount of times I've asked "how are you" or "did you have a good summer" this week. With the new pupils it's been "I recognise you from your leaver's assembly at primary" or "havent you got a brother / cousin" at school. For me personally I have also been a bit taken a back at the number of students asking if I was ok, congratulating me on becoming head or wishing me luck for the term. I suppose it always makes a sense to get in with the boss!  What is immediately obvious is that these are not just idle conversations. A school absolutely depends on its relationships, we talk about LSP all the time as being a big family, and it really is.

Why this is important is that the strength of our family means we can challenge all our pupils to do even better. I've taken the decision to lead assembly every day. I figure its my job to set the tone for the school, also I want pupils to know who I am and see me as someone they can talk to. This week I've spoken to all pupils about how enormously proud we are about our performance in examinations last summer, added to our successes in music, drama, media or sport we really do have lots to shout about. Even pupils lower down the school benefit from hearing about how well everyone has done and therefore our high expectations for them, also despite this I wanted everyone to know that there is always more to do. With this in mind this week I spoke of the need for all pupils to work even harder, it seems to be getting ever more difficult to achieve academic success and this is not a time to sit back and bask in praise. We particularly want learners to focus on improving their maths and English. We recognise that literacy and numeracy skills are hugely important and we want to do everything we can to improve this

I also talked about the importance of attendance, last year attendance in school was 91.6%, this was better than ever but still needs to improve further. I stressed the importance of punctuality and also discussed the issues of lateness that often stem from pupils getting back to afternoon lessons after going to the bakery for lunch. Add to that  the need to ensure healthy eating at LSP and the additional concerns I have about the very busy road that runs past the school site, then I'm sure it can bee seen why we have decided to allow only years 11,12 and 13 permission to leave the school premises at lunchtime. I would very much hope that parents support this decision and have promised to review the situation throughout the year

Finally I talked about the importance of our image in the community. We are very much aware that other local schools have recently made changes to their uniform including in many cases the introduction of blazers. All the boys looked amazingly smart this week and we talked of the need to keep this up, I've always believed that the way pupils present themselves is tremendously important, it's often a key indicator of whether a community perceives a school as successful. I will be issuing a letter to parents this week as a reminder of our uniform requirements (I'll also publish details on this blog), we will be consulting widely on this issue all year.

Ultimately, why all this matters is because we are constantly looking at ways to make our school the best it can possibly be. We do this because like any family we want everyone to be the the best person they can. Like any good family we praise each other when its deserved, but also we are also prepared to have those difficult conversations where we agree to do something, not because we have to, but because it s the right thing to do. I suppose that some people call that tough love. At Pengam its just a way of showing that you never give up, and isn't that the whole point of being a family?

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Back to school!

Towards the end of the summer holidays I always get a few strange looks when I tell people I can't wait to get back to school, after all why would anyone be excited to go back to work? But for as long as I can remember the start of a new school year has been something that gave me that feeling of anticipation in the pit of my stomach, yes I really do get back to school butterflies! When I was in school, (I was actually young once!) that feeling of excited anticipation was probably partly the thought of my mam buying me a new pencil case or school bag, but it was also the idea of getting back into the routine of seeing my friends and the fact that I actually enjoyed the idea of learning new things. To be honest that feeling of excitement is probably why I ended up becoming a teacher. The great thing about school is that every September means a fresh start. New faces, new ideas, new plans it all begins again on that first day and there is no better feeling.

For me personally this year is even more exciting than usual. After 16 amazing years teaching at LSP I was lucky enough to be appointed headteacher. Without a doubt this was the proudest moment of my career and it means that just like all the new year 7 pupils who will arrive in Pengam on Tuesday it's going to feel like a first day for me too.

What is adding to my excitement is the huge positivity around the school. LSP has always been an incredibly caring place where we have traditionally gone the extra mile to support young people in any way possible. Over the last few years we have added academic excellence to this tradition. Once again this summer we have achieved record exam results. Over half the pupils who attended school achieved a C grade or above in both maths and English. More than 80% of pupils achieved 5 or more good GCSE passes. All the talk in the media over the summer was about how boys are falling further behind girls and how it was more difficult than ever to get a good GCSE in maths or English. Despite this our pupils bucked these trends. As a result of the enormous amount of effort made by pupils and teachers results were better than ever before.

A huge part of my job is shouting about this success from the rooftops, it's one of the reasons why I'm writing this blog. I often think secondary schools seem like quite closed places, we only really see people on parents evenings, or school concerts or (thankfully rarely) if something's gone wrong. Boys are also notoriously bad at telling their parents what's happening in school, and so how pupils are actually doing is often a bit of a mystery. That is one of the reasons why exam results day is so fantastic. We get to see parents on a day when we are all celebrating success. LSP is always a really wonderful place on that Thursday in August when the results envelopes are being opened. One slightly tearful and emotional parent said to me on that day

"Thank you so much for everything you've done you always believed in him and never gave up"

The knowledge that as a school we have done everything we can to ensure someone's success is something that I want every parent to know about. It is undoubtedly the main reason the school goes from strength to strength.

Of course there are always challenges and, just like a football team, you're only as good as your last set of results, but as I sit here on Saturday morning thinking about the start of another year, I am absolutely certain that I am very lucky to be the headteacher of an extraordinary school. LSP is a place full of fantastic pupils who amaze me every day with their creativity, commitment and brilliance. Wonderful teachers who are prepared to make every effort to ensure everyone does their best and fantastic parents who help us in countless ways to achieve success.  So when people give me those strange looks there really is only one possible response... why on earth would I not be excited?