Shaping the climate

I wish you all a very Happy New Year and hope that you enjoyed rest and festivities with family and friends during the Christmas break.

The OECD published the findings of its triennial Programme for International Student Assessment tests (PISA) in December, based on the responses of 600,000 15-year-old students from 79 participating countries and economies. The data pleasingly showed the UK making progress in reading, maths and science. Alongside the academic tests, there were also questions about teenagers' well-being, with outcomes published in a volume entitled: What School Life Means for Students’ Lives https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/education/pisa-2018-results-volume-iii_acd78851-en

This part of the tests focuses on the physical and emotional health of students, the role of teachers and parents in shaping the school climate, and social life at school:

“A positive school climate is one of those things that is difficult to define and measure, but everyone – including parents – recognises it when they see it. The state of the school’s facilities, the tone of the conversations in corridors, the enthusiasm of the school staff and the way students interact during breaks are some of the signs that visitors can read to quickly and broadly assess a school’s climate.”

53% of students in the UK reported that they were satisfied with their lives or felt they had meaning in their lives, compared to 67% on average across OECD countries. The level of exposure to bullying at school was slightly higher than average in the UK: 27% of students reported being bullied at least a few times a month, compared to 23% on average across OECD countries. 66% of young people in the UK said they were sometimes or always worried - compared with an OECD average of 50%. Conversely and more positively, 93% said they sometimes or always felt happy (OECD average: 91%) and some 81% of students in the UK (average: 74%) agreed or strongly agreed that their teacher showed enjoyment in teaching!

A positive school climate, caring and enthusiastic teachers and healthy relationships are undoubtedly key to our young people’s happiness, and it is such an environment and community which we strive to create at LGS. I asked staff last term to consider and discuss the positive values which we should cherish as a school and which should underpin all our endeavours. This is what we have come up with so far, and I shall next be taking the discussion to the pupils:

  • Respect: for self, others and our environment; courtesy, kindness, humility, tolerance, care, encouragement
  • Trust: integrity, honesty, responsibility, self-discipline
  • Courage: resilience, perseverance, commitment, endeavour, self-belief, challenge
  • Curiosity: independence, initiative, creativity, spark, self-awareness, scholarship
  • Community: service, empathy, compassion, collaboration, inclusiveness, selflessness

Despite the rather gloomy findings of the 2018 OECD assessment, let’s do our best to ensure that LGS is a beacon of hope and a purposeful, caring school community in which our young people feel valued and fulfilled. As we begin a new decade, may our corridors and classrooms be filled with smiles and laughter!

Best wishes

John Watson
Headmaster and Principal