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Principal's Comment

Dear Parents and Carers

It is a pleasure to welcome you to our website which gives important information and a flavour of our activities and achievements. The individual student is and always will be at the centre of all we do. Each one is very precious to us and it is essential that all of our students enjoy the best education and experiences possible.

Our mission is to provide a positive, enjoyable and structured approach to learning where success is recognised and rewarded and students are encouraged to develop their skills. We offer a safe, secure environment with an aspirational ethos in which students can develop self-belief, self-discipline, consideration for others and enjoy positive relationships. All students have the opportunity to achieve their best. I am immensely proud of our staff and the support and guidance we give our students whatever their circumstances, abilities and aptitudes. Our curriculum is broad and challenging and our pastoral care is exemplary.

Please contact me if you would like a tour of our school and witness at first hand our excellent facilities, dedicated staff and wonderful students. I look forward to meeting you.

On protecting ourselves and our children: no photos - keep abusers at bay!

posted 30 Dec 2016, 11:53 by Mark Pinchin   [ updated 21 Feb 2017, 01:37 by Glen Bone ]

There are many responsibilities being a Headteacher. I spend a great deal of time looking at curriculum, raising standards, staff and student welfare and links with parents and the community. I also try and create as many experiences for the students as possible. Our new Royal Marine link would be an example. I have worked with the Royal Marines for many years and am thrilled that in my first term I managed to rekindle this link and send our first cohort of students off on an adventure! I remember still at 17 completing the Tarzan course at Lympstone, the bleep tests, football in the mud and all the other activities required for Officer entry into the Royal Marines. Following that I lived in a mud hut in Kabompo in the North East Province of Zambia with a soldier from the Parachute Regiment as we protected ourselves from a marauding group who were cutting out ex- pats hearts at the time! I was however far more interested in fishing for tiger fish and paying local children to collect me baskets of mangoes from mango trees. As they bartered their wares I could hear their friends ransacking my rudimentary pantry in the rear of my hut with their sticky fingers in my sugar jar!

I cannot say that any of the above bar student and staff safety gives me sleepless nights but there are other things that do.

When Headteacher at St Luke's Science and Sports College in Exeter I discussed at length with one of our trusted Chaplains how on earth I could protect children of 11 from pornography and the shock of being shown something awful on a mobile phone that might puncture and damage their impressionable minds for ever. This vile 10 billion pound and growing industry and its effect on young people bothers me daily. How can one except through education and heavy scrutiny in school protect them? And of course the majority of its impact is not in school. There is no stronger case than working with parents on this societal issue to protect our young? Every parent must surely feel the same and all decent people who are not parents of course. And it is invidious and all pervasive. It is everywhere. Government in my view absolutely has to take action and we must do all we can to educate, inform and care for children damaged by this hideous and rapidly growing industry.

The other issue of societal concern and concern for any Headteacher is the spreading and use of images on the internet and social media. I have long voiced my views on the cowards who use social media to bully and intimidate others and the helplessness of their victims. Bullies and abusers always seem so incredibly plausible to others and throw a smokescreen over their activities. With every single one of us this is now an issue. Twenty years ago photographs went into private albums. Now they can go global. I feel desperation at the helplessness of all people but especially children who release images of themselves, some very intimate, and then lose control of those images.

These victims can feel absolutely desperate and alone and it is so hard to recall them. How many adults today bitterly regret images that they allowed to be taken of them many years ago which are now on the open social media accounts of 'friends' who turned out not to be friends after all  but cowardly abusers who delight in the discomfiture they cause.

The other issue of societal concern and concern for any Headteacher is the spreading and use of images on the internet and social media. I have long voiced my views on the cowards who use social media to bully and intimidate others and the helplessness of their victims. Bullies and abusers always seem so incredibly plausible to others and throw a smokescreen over their activities. With every single one of us this is now an issue. Twenty years ago photographs went into private albums. Now they can go global. I feel desperation at the helplessness of all people but especially children who release images of themselves, some very intimate, and then lose control of those images.

These victims can feel absolutely desperate and alone and it is so hard to recall them. How many adults today bitterly regret images that they allowed to be taken of them many years ago which are now on the open social media accounts of 'friends' who turned out not to be friends after all but cowardly abusers who delight in the discomfiture they cause.

My role is to educate and inform. All of us need to be very very careful if photographs are taken of us and under no account allow them to be posted on social media without our express permission. With our students I urge them to be very careful who takes what and where it goes. Education is the key with all of us being vigilant and alert and mindful of the fact that friendships change, people are not always who we thought they were and once a picture is taken it is out of our control forever.

I am afraid that this is now the world in which we all live. Naivety is not an excuse. We must do all we canto prevent ourselves becoming victims of this particularly sinister and underhand form of control and bullying. Cyber bullies are everywhere. 'Monsters do not always look like monsters'. And they come from all walks of life.

I remain absolutely dedicated to tackling and dealing with both of the above. In dealing with it we must all work together which in any case is always the hallmark of a good school and a good community and a good society.

Mark Pinchin

Linda Stachura - Do You Believe?

posted 16 Dec 2016, 07:19 by

Do You Believe by Linda Stachura also accompanying on guitar

This song written by Linda and accompanied by her on guitar contains a lot of emotions and background from personal experiences. It was composed from the heart.

Linda hopes to pursue music at College and go travelling around Europe.

Another wonderful poem by Elijah Bura Year 10.

posted 7 Dec 2016, 03:46 by Mark Pinchin   [ updated 7 Dec 2016, 06:08 by ]

You will all remember the last wonderful poem submitted to these pages by Elijah Bura Year 10. This is his latest offering for us all. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.    

The Lost Liner
As I sail through the deathly waters,
Slicing through the riptides of the ocean,
Stricken by the blackened waves, like mortars,
I am gently swayed within the motion.
Onwards,over the seven seas I glide,
Searching for that wooden sanctuary,
Bold and lonely, trudging ahead with pride,
Wishing I was not so solitary.
I see the horizon in the distance,
It beckons to me to rise from the rain,
Only to emerge to an existence,
Where I'm dizzied in darkness once again.
Now I'm stuck conversing with my sadness,
Drowning in a twisted sea of madness.

Mark Pinchin

On Women, Women's Football and Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin

posted 6 Dec 2016, 15:02 by Mark Pinchin   [ updated 7 Dec 2016, 06:01 by ]

When I first began teaching as a Primary School teacher several years ago now near Croydon I was given the task by Mr Wringe my Headteacher of refereeing all the football matches and running our football team. Our boys were trained by Crystal Palace and we won the Surrey Cup three Years in a row.

A pleasure? You must be joking. The boys were OK..but some of their parents were horrific as they lived out their failed dreams through their children. Screaming abuse from the touchline only I and Brian Istead a local Policeman were willing to referee as everyone else had given up a long time ago! We were both boxers and played town rugby so could handle ourselves and yet I had to abandon several matches due to the florid gesticulations and language coming thick and fast from the touchline.'

"You callin' my boy offside? He can't be offside..he aint interferin' with play!!"

'Er no but he is leaning against the goalpost in the goalmouth eating a yorkie bar ...where he has been for the last 5 minutes waiting to toe a ball in!'

Nightmare! Never again! Prefer the honest sweat of the gym!

And then like a shard of light and wonderful brilliance some girls asked if I would run a girl's football team! Oh the joy! Finally I had found all the skill and wonder that football could be! It was as Brian Clough would have said 'The beautiful game' without the posturing, language and aggression which was a hallmark of boys football around Croydon in those days. The play flowed, technique was dazzling! I was sold! Converted! I have been a massive champion of girls football ever since!

But what really incensed me was that my lovely team of willing players were unable to be recognised or participate in the local league for the local cups and trophies. And why? For one reason only; they were girls. All our matches had to be 'friendlies'. The injustice and stupidity and narrow mindedness  of this lives with me even to this day. I feel annoyed writing about it now.

And of course the great film Gregory's Girl championed women and women's football where Dorothy literally bounced the boys around like a ball. What a refreshing film that was where male sexist stereotypes were brilliantly challenged  and ridiculed through humour! And it is not innocent as men who constantly look women up and down claim..'just looking at the harm in that is there?' Well yes in fact there is coarse,lewd and degrading and my job as a Headteacher is to educate and challenge this type of behaviour which is dull, insulting, boorish, and an affront to decent men and women everywhere.

Women have had to battle long and hard to combat this nonsense and achieve equal rights in so many areas of society. For me one of the great injustices was in Grammar school selection in the 1950's and 1960's where so many more boys than girls went to grammar school when we know that developmentally this is impossible. The scandal of manipulating the data was exposed and there was a National outcry. And rightly so.

Everyone has heard of Alexander Fleming and yet how many people have heard of the great and brilliant chemist who taught Margaret Thatcher at Oxford;another Dorothy...Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin from Beccles in Suffolk who had to fight the system to study chemistry at school when girls were forced to study domestic science. But fight she did and discovered the molecular structure of penicillin which enabled its mass production to help people all over the planet. She won a Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1964 and was a member of the Pugwash Society which meant her knowledge could only be used for good. Every girl everywhere should see Dorothy as a shining example of a girl and woman who smashed the constraints and expectations of her because she was a woman. Politics aside the same could be said of her pupil Margaret Thatcher. The two women corresponded all their lives. Dorothy has been featured on two issues of postage stamps. She died in 1994 aged 84 years and is an inspiration to honourable, hard working men and women everywhere.

Mark Pinchin

Great Student ,Great Ambassador for our School and Fantastic Rugby Star !

posted 18 Nov 2016, 08:25 by Mark Pinchin   [ updated 19 Nov 2016, 02:33 by ]

Harvey Smith is one of our stars in Year 9 ! A delightful student his big passion is rugby and he loves playing for Dartfordians RFC.

He went on two tours, one to The Isle of Wight and one to Chelsea!

He was man of the match in both of them!

Harvey has played since he was 5 and is also very proud of his older brother in Year 11 who got him involved in Rugby and who tours in Holland shortly!

It really is a pleasure to have such a pleasant and brilliant sportsman in our school and I know we all wish him great rugby success in the future !

Mark Pinchin

Ace Mechanic Louie Panayiotou Loves his Cars and Wants a Garage! Soon!

posted 18 Nov 2016, 08:12 by Mark Pinchin   [ updated 19 Nov 2016, 02:28 by ]

As an agricultural mechanic myself who spent years trying to mend balers and ploughs on the icy Black Fens of East Anglia while up to my neck in was pure delight to finally meet a kindred spirit!

Well not exactly a kindred spirit in that Louie Panayiotou would not be mad enough to do what I did in my misspent youth! But like myself he has a great love and passion for engines!

Louie has been enjoying mechanics since he was 12 years old. His cousin has his own workshop in Crayford and that is where Louie excels..jacking up cars, servicing and taking out engines! He enjoys doing diagnostics and is determined to have his own garage and pass it through his family.

The thing that strikes one about Louie is his deep love for all of his family..every one! Family means a lot for Louie. He talks very fondly of his Uncle George with his Porsche 911 Targa and enjoys weightlifting with cousin Nick! He was particularly proud of completing three 50 Kg squats last week!

Louie has a natural feel for engines and mechanics and his enthusiasm is palpable! He personally would like a Porsche 924 Turbo and feels that is within his reach! He really enjoys what he calls real work and already be part of the real world!

There is no doubt at all in my mind that Louie will be successful and one day run a first class garage that puts the customer first  and hopefully will be servicing my little Skoda........with a small discount of course!!

Mark Pinchin

Teddy and Danny Gibbons Judo Champions!

posted 11 Nov 2016, 09:27 by Mark Pinchin   [ updated 12 Nov 2016, 02:31 by ]

Update! Teddy Gibbons is pictured with his Southern Area Gold Medal in Judo which he won last year!

Teddy competes tomorrow in this years British Schools Open which as he is in an older category promises to be very tough indeed!

Teddy follows in the footsteps of his father Danny Gibbons who holds the British Masters Champion Gold Medal ! Danny won this recently in Scotland!

We wish Teddy and his father much continuing success and good luck for tomorrow Teddy! We all await  news of the contest!

Mark Pinchin

Maisie Bevan and Connor Taylor Head Prefects and Executive Councillors Year 11 !

posted 9 Nov 2016, 10:08 by Mark Pinchin   [ updated 10 Nov 2016, 02:34 by ]

All students should be encouraged to take and accept responsibility. It is part of the recipe for success in any school. Having said that it was therefore a huge pleasure to be able to present with Mr Reavell, Head of Year 11, two of our most deserving students with their Head Prefect badges in my office today. They also sit on our Executive Committee!

Mr Reavell and I are both extremely proud of Maisie Bevan and Connor Taylor who exhibit all the fine qualities that marked them out for this great achievement!

Maisie is an exemplary student who loves the Performing Arts and is a fantastic role model within our school! She is kind, courteous and shows great initiative. There is no doubt that she will go on to great things in her future and it will be a huge pleasure to watch her unfolding success! I am thrilled to be working with her in her new role! What an ambassador for our school!

Connor is shortly to embark on  the week I have organised with the Royal Marines at the Commando Training Centre in Lympstone, East Devon. Connor is a fitness fanatic and I am sure will do us proud on the assault courses there and underwater tunnels which form part of commando training in reaching the highest standard required to win the right to wear the coveted green beret of the Royal Marines Commando. He will love it!

We wish Connor and Maisie enormous success in their role and I know they will continue to make a massively positive impact on our school!

Our pictures show Mr Reavell and myself with Connor and Maisie having just been presented with their badges this morning!

Mark Pinchin

On the day when Donald Trump gains power..Jermaine Croft voices his thoughts.......

posted 9 Nov 2016, 06:09 by Mark Pinchin   [ updated 10 Nov 2016, 02:25 by ]

I enjoyed a discussion on the theme of power this lunchtime with Jermaine Croft from Year 10 which we agreed seemed particularly pertinent today following the victory of Donald Trump to The White House. 
Jermaine, an enthusiastic poet then offered this poem to mark the occasion!


It can grow into things, strong and evil,
Sometimes cruel, wrong, inhuman, illegal.
It can never be with one place, hand or person.
At the end of wars teaches a valuable lesson.

Power may crawl into evil's hands,
But can open a gate to angel's lands.
Can make a better world full of success,
But too often creates an ugly mess.

Some cannot be trusted with Power,
Because they make people shake, tremble, cower...
Supreme power cannot always be attained.
As it fragments...yet within our world...

Will never truly be contained.

Mark Pinchin

On Sport and the Bright Days ahead! Mark Pinchin HT Ambassador Youth Sport Trust

posted 5 Nov 2016, 14:21 by Mark Pinchin   [ updated 8 Nov 2016, 23:46 ]

As a Headteacher Ambassador for the Youth Sport Trust I take sport extremely seriously and carefully consider the benefits for young people.

My own experiences will match those of many from my generation where the quality of sports teaching in schools could be abysmal at best and indescribably bad at worst. Our school was not dissimilar to the film Kes where no skills were taught but the PE teacher played by Brian Glover lived out his dreams while bullying the children in his care. The only difference with our PE teacher was that instead of sporting a Man United football 'rig' he instead chose a quilted warm tracksuit with a hotwater bottle stuffed down the front with.. 'Great day for a bit of rugger lads' and put on his warm gloves and adjusted his scarf as we shivered in the mud and the cold.

Character Building? Maybe for some of us while it destroyed other more sensitive children as they ran the gauntlet of the showers with our teacher delighting in turning the huge chrome temperature tap from boiling hot to freezing cold...' and in you go again lads....make men of you yet!’

Neither was it character building for the thalidomide children in my year group who in every selection where children chose the teams they were left in a miserable huddle as the oafs that postured as teaching staff presided over this grotesque and horrifying spectacle. How I despised these staff as they strutted in their Cheetah Sports gear while talented children - which is all children if they could have been bothered to stop looking at their reflections in our gym windows and find the right sport for the children in their care - gave up.

How times have changed. The greatest moments in my life have been working with disabled students in sport with wheelchair rugby and the like. While Headteacher of a large school in Exeter I facilitated this with our special unit for children with profound difficulties and rejoiced at the joy sport gave these worthy and courageous children.

For myself I was OK. I scored a goal on my first day at Primary School, threw the javelin and discus and hammer at secondary and once released from 'school sport' as it was called played rugby at a good level for my local town in Suffolk and boxed. I do not relay this to my good friend Ross Minter (who runs the Queensbury League) lest he find the amusement all too much... but I was quite good and only in my last fight in North London in the 1980's was I sent reeling to the canvas by a searing left hook delivered by an East End milkman called Eddie Ostwald ! As I lay there, my brains temporarily scrambled I can remember blinking owlishly upwards at an array of large fingers as I was counted out. The famous Pinchin shuffle had failed to weave its magic! Afterwards it was arms around each other and that word which permeates all aspects of the sport: Respect. I have never lost my love of the sport and by six years old my son knew all the greats..Hagler, Hearns, Duran, Minter, Sugar Ray Leonard, Ali and Smokin' Joe ! and I still work out at Keddles Gym.....what might have been! Boulevard of broken dreams!

In later years I discovered the joy of running...and ran and ran and ran with the Exmouth Harriers until one fateful day my Achilles tendon snapped on a coastal run in East Devon. And that was it. It is two years since the operations and I have just started running again. For me sport has given me a sense of purpose, wellbeing, and just the joy of feeling good and fit. Clears the mind, gets the blood racing, the heart pumping and the eyes popping!

Now of course everything has changed. Educational reforms have removed the stereotypical PE teachers of yesteryear..not that all were bad..some were excellent but it was fertile ground for staff bullies and in their place in most schools such as our own we have incredible and amazing and simply brilliant staff who care about developing the skills of every child and their love of healthy lifestyles and fitness.

I marvel each week at the time they devote to clubs and extracurricular activities and competitions. The Youth Sport Trust and similar organisations do a magnificent job and inspiring speakers travel schools motivating and encouraging pupils. Craig Heap and Darren Campbell delight and I am hoping that Ross Minter pictured will visit shortly to describe his own journey to the top, The only visitor we ever got at my school was my PE teacher's mum bringing him a flask of cocoa at half time when numbed with cold, boredom and indifference we dreamed of the final whistle, and having survived the gauntlet of the showers we all raced to the kind benevolent gaze of our beloved science teacher Mr Onions or our much loved Music teacher Mrs Cleary....or best of all our wonderful tutor Mr Spencer with his Benson and Hedges cigarettes with 3 gold bands which we bought him each Christmas!

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that sport enriches children's lives and gives them so much. Self belief, team spirit, cooperation with others, dealing with success and dealing with failure. Resilience, strength, fortitude, tenacity, perseverence, care, support, modesty, empathy and so many other qualities which are crucial in the world of today. It impacts on achievement across the whole curriculum.

A love of sport also gets young people off mobile phones, social media, computers, computer games and gaming sites which can be so harmful and destructive and replace them with life in the real world where they take responsibility and develop themselves in so many ways as they interact with others, follow their passions and take responsibility to shape their life and make their life an adventure!

Looking back at Roosevelt's famous quotation we need to support children to give things a go......throw caution to the wind, be bold and courageous ! To paraphrase...
It is not the critic who counts...but the person who dares to try..........

Above all sport is about young people feeling good about themselves. On 29th October I attended 'Face Off' a fantastic evening of boxing organised by Ross Minter and his Queensbury Boxing league. The atmosphere was electrifying. The great Buddae Johnson commentator was in full flow in immaculately cut suit, the music was pumping, Ross was ensuring everything was running smoothly and in the ring - the theatre of dreams - hundreds of hours of training and dedication were demonstrated to shattering effect.

And for me the fight of the night on any night anywhere was the contest between two very young men Luke the' Pocket Rocket' Pearson from Redhill ( from the outstanding 'LiketoBox' Gym, Merstham) and his opponent Bad Boy 'Buster' Stevens. The skill and speed was breathtaking, dancing, moving, weaving, ducking and diving, feinting. Intensely moving to those of us watching they gave it their all with verve and skill and immense courage. Absolutely compelling. Stevens heroically battled on with a bad nosebleed, wiping the blood away with his glove as he demonstrated awesome skill. Both young men exhibited tremendous guts and sheer courage. And at the end, the crowd roaring their approval the two men embraced as local man Luke Pearson took the palm and won the contest!

>When asked how he felt Luke needed only seven words:

"I feel on top of the world!”

The applause was tumultuous.

And then..........

Everything was drowned out by the cheers for his gallant opponent as they both left the ring. The noise was simply deafening and every emotion was summed up for both young men in one word: 'Respect'.

Mark Pinchin

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