Character Education in schools – Coronavirus lockdown
Character Education in schools is critical in light of the Coronavirus lockdown.
The Character Education Framework was published by the government in November 2019. It’s a tool to help schools audit and evaluate their character development provision. For most pupils, home has become a classroom during the Coronavirus pandemic. But the framework is still very relevant!
Now is a good time to reflect on the six benchmarks of the Character Education framework. Consider how your current remote learning provision supports these. Do you still uphold the virtues outlined in your Character Education commitment? Are you getting the most from your usual school practices to develop students’ character at this time?
What kind of school are you?
To create a sense of pride, belonging and identity for pupils, start with your school values. They still play a part, whether pupils are learning in the classroom or at home.
As children face isolation from their school peers, it’s more important than ever to help them feel connected. In some cases, they’ll be exposed to difficult home circumstances. Many will have varying opportunities for learning and development.
In addition to home learning tasks and academic progress, why not use this opportunity to remind pupils of your school’s values? This will reinforce that they belong to a caring, inspiring community dedicated to learning. Providing visual cues depicting your values in the context of wider societal changes can help students find meaning.
The role models pupils see daily contribute to their character development. Usually this is their family, friends and staff at school. But these interactions are limited now, so it’s key to remind pupils of who they are as individuals, as a school collective and their part in the school community. This is important for maintaining consistency and a sense of belonging. There are some amazing role models in our communities, country and world that could provide the focus of activities and learning beyond their immediate surroundings.
What can students do to exhibit your school values whilst at home? Can they give examples of action they’ve taken to show consideration and respect towards others? Or discuss how they’ve displayed good manners and courtesy to their families? Perhaps they can find safe volunteering opportunities within their community? And little acts of kindness to contribute to the sense of community where they live?
These can be shared and celebrated with you and their peers. Some great ideas we have seen recently include:
- Pupils writing articles for the school website news area sharing their character based activities
- Staff collating videos where multiple students contribute small clips so they can see each other and share achievements
- Video activities where all students log on together at the same time to feed back on work
- Teachers running live lessons that can be watched later so pupils can maintain personal connections
During the Coronavirus lockdown, young people might experience anxiety, loneliness and uncertainty about their future. As school leaders, you can help students manage these feelings and build resilience.
The way we speak to students about Coronavirus and wider issues in society has an impact. So, think about ways of building an ongoing dialogue that goes beyond updates on their schoolwork. Creating an open channel of communication with pupils is key to establishing trust. And fundamental for building resilience.
A benefit of the current situation is the positive impact on students’ independence. They now need to plan and manage their time, organise themselves, solve problems and find strategies to deal with issues. Increased independence will have a lasting benefit to pupils’ character development if it is handled correctly.
It’s vital to support and encourage their independence. Young people need clear and consistent direction on what’s expected of them, especially during lockdown. This will give them the confidence to know that they can do this on their own.
Provide manageable workloads, clear timeframes and achievable goals. Give guidance on how they can manage time, without dictating, and useful positive feedback. This will encourage students to tackle their tasks independently. Knowing teachers are there as a safety net to ask questions, guide and support them inspires courage.
Pupils gain motivation from achieving independence. So, getting them to learn for the sake of learning, with a will to improve, is of huge benefit.
It’s so important to celebrate success during lockdown. Not all pupils will be able to motivate themselves as well as others. It’s important to praise pupils for engaging in everyday activities. This includes exercise, healthy eating, looking after their mental health and practising good hygiene. These actions can lead to better overall health and will give youngsters a sense of progress.
Don’t forget that they are still children! Some of the little things you’d usually do every day to motivate and encourage are important in building positivity, independence and resilience. If you usually have a weekly reward ceremony in assembly, star of the week or send postcards home, think of pupils who have lost that chance this year. They will never get that Year 7 postcard, be a Year 10 High Achiever, a Year 3 Star of the Week or take home the Year 1 teddy.
Supporting your co-curriculum
Although you can’t provide your usual array of extra-curricular activities, there are many ways to involve children beyond the National Curriculum.
Art, performance, sport, debating and family team challenges can help pupils discover new interests. They can even help them develop existing ones. In fact, there’s a lot on offer remotely from local, national or international organisations. Many local sports clubs are providing free classes/sessions online. Some local authorities are even funding these projects to support businesses and schools. Can you think of opportunities for pupils to work together remotely across the school community?
Many schools use Wall Art to promote their school values and character. This is because it’s a great way to share your schools’s unique ethos. View our case studies to see more of our work.