A Healthy School...

I last 'met' Paula Radcliffe in London in April 2003.

Derek Peaple meets Paula Radcliffe

Okay, that's a little misleading.

Paula Radcliffe World Record London Marathon

I was actually 40 minutes down the road behind her (a mere seven miles, at that pace!) as she set her phenomenal and still subsequently unchallenged World Record of 2 hours 15 minutes and 25 seconds in that year's Marathon.

Flora London Marathon 2003 Medal

Our meeting in London last Wednesday was, for me at least, an infinitely less painful experience!

Even though I happened to be in the spotlight!

I was, together with Paula and a number of other school-based colleagues, at the House of Commons to give evidence to - and be questioned by - the All-Party Parliamentary Commission on Physical Activity.

All Party Parliamentary Commission on Physical Activity

The Commission is made up of MPs and Lords from all the major parties and  is jointly chaired by multi-Paralympic Gold Medallist Baroness Tani Grey-Thompson and Charlotte Leslie MP.

Tanni Grey Thompson

(By coincidence our students' brilliant painting of Tani, in the Pointillist style, was used at the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Paralympic Games)

It has recently been set up to gather best practice in relation to challenging the growing problems of obesity and the lack of physical in activity in this country.  The Commission has been investigating this issue across different sectors in Sport, Health, Transport, Urban Planning and Education.

You can find out more about the Commission's brief here:


I was invited to present to the Commission on the basis of Park House's outstanding record in promoting healthy lifestyles activity across the local community. We're currently Berkshire's lead School for Health and Well Being and have played a central role in training Primary School Pupil Health Ambassadors across the County. These Ambassadors then go back into their individual schools to lead and promote more physical activity in the playground before school, at breaks and lunchtimes.

A key feature of this approach has been the introduction of the 'Berkshire Health Passport', with students then gaining 'stamps' for undertaking exercise and demonstrating healthy eating habits at school and at home.

Berkshire Health Passport

The 'healthiness', in every sense of the word, of a school is not of course reflected in League tables. They don't capture a school's culture; it's spirit, it's heart and it's soul: the rounded, 'values-led ambition' for our students which Ofsted, to its credit, identified in our superb report in 2012.

As Einstein, who knew something about numbers, once put it:


'Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.'

There are, I believe, 72 different ways of sorting the data in those tables. How they are interpreted depends greatly on what the press chooses to emphasise in any given, single year. They are a snapshot, not a rounded or rich portrait of a school's achievements and the progress made by its students.

As I blogged last week, our Sixth Form progress and achievement over a three-year trend puts us the top 15% of schools across the country. That does count. It shows sustained, outstanding performance over time; a track record of proven achievement which means that as a school we have been asked to support the improvement of others. A pity it wasn't emphasised in recent press coverage. Maybe next year?

Park House School ALPS certiificate

I'm very proud that, by any measure, Park House is such a healthy school.