Promoting character and school values
School values and a strong ethos should underpin all that you do.
School values can help pupils understand right from wrong and they can also help to shape the mindsets and behaviour of future adults. So their importance shouldn’t be underestimated. There’s a lot you can do to build character through school values, you just need to know where to begin!
Character builds confidence
The wider impact
In 2015 the DfE launched the first Character Awards for schools. Encouraging ‘British Values’ has increased in profile and importance. The Counter Terrorism Act and Prevent duty emphasise a school’s responsibilities to promote these values. Nicky Morgan spoke at the CBI Annual Conference about the importance of character in education for children to be successful in their adult life and in the workplace.
“Pupils who are confident, motivated and resilient will be better prepared for adult life and we believe they will get on better both in education and employment.” Nicky Morgan (9th November 2015).
Neil Carberry, the CBI’s director for employment and skills, said himself that:
“Business is clear that developing the right attitudes and attributes in people – such as resilience, respect, enthusiasm and creativity – is just as important as academic or technical skills.”
Creating a vision, along with a set of values to reflect them, is a daunting task. How do you encompass all that underpins your approach in a few words? To begin, you could try one of our vision and values workshops to help you create or re-establish your values.
Once you have created your school values, embedding them within everyday life can be even more of a challenge. All too often, the pressures of a busy school life take over from devoting the time you need to promote your vision and values to the community. For pupils to be the best they can be, they need to work together towards a common set of goals and school values.
Sharing your school values
Set an example
First and foremost, children learn by watching and copying. As educational practitioners know, a large percentage of pupils’ learning comes from watching behaviours of those around them. Children love to copy and act out being older than they are, so the conduct of other pupils and staff has a huge impact.
Embedding your school values in day-to-day life can help shape each pupil’s understanding of the world. Everyday activities that focus on developing character and values will embed them as an underpinning part of pupils’ lives.
- Giving responsibility to students
- Policies and expectations for behaviour
- Competitive sport
- Activities/work within the wider community
- Work experience opportunities
All of these can go a long way to developing pupils’ abilities to show initiative, contribute to others and gain respect and tolerance.
Using your curriculum
Teaching school values
Character and values are an essential part of the hidden curriculum but need to be explicitly taught. A well-planned SMSC curriculum woven across all subjects is essential. It teaches pupils the school values they need in order to succeed. School values can include resilience, aspiration, determination, tolerance, respect and team spirit.
UNICEF’s Rights for Children provides an excellent framework for teaching children about school values. Debates in school elections and enterprise activities are a favourite amongst the student body and can raise self-esteem and confidence. They can also help teach the fundamentals of democracy and workplace attitudes.
Some schools focus on one school value a week and some one per month through assemblies, PSHE lessons and dedicated class slots. These slots are usually 10 minutes, a day or half an hour a week.
Other schools appoint ‘Value Ambassadors’, which are representatives from across the classes. They champion the school values to their peers. For younger children, there are many stories that convey school values. Using a range of regular stories focusing on a value of the week/month is great for younger children. This works well when followed up with role play or hot seating.
Scheduling regular time to spend on school values and sharing responsibility for promoting them is a positive way of helping pupils and parents become part of your overall ethos.
The visual environment
Surroundings are key
Pupils’ surroundings have an impact on their positivity and attitude to learning. An accessible and well organised classroom makes it easy to access learning materials and sets the tone for learning. Displays can be a very useful tool to expand subject knowledge and skills. The wall space in your school can help you to promote your school values and raise aspirations. It can also encourage enthusiasm and creativity.
With a strong foundation, children will develop core values of their own. Schools play a significant part in preparing the future generation for their life as adults. This is a responsibility to be mindful of and an exciting opportunity to be a part of. If your school’s vision and school values are clear and well thought out, your message will be simple and inherent.
If you would like to find out more about how you can use your environment to promote your vision and school values, take a look at our work with Longfield Primary School.