We are constantly reflecting on ways to develop the school along with the capability of our students. Something we reflected on in 2019 is the notion of character and how character can best be developed. This thinking was initially prompted by a question from our Governors, two years ago, asking about the ideas and values that might best describe the school’s journey from where it is to where it wished to be.
In these days of high accountability, it is tempting to describe a school’s aspirations in terms of numbers, data targets that seem to define effectiveness. These are often about student progress and attainment, exclusion rates or attendance statistics. However, behind any set of figures lie countless personal stories, particularly when the academic and social trajectory of students is seldom predictable. Numbers and data do not really describe a school or reveal the truth behind how it runs. We do not want to be a school that is defined by numbers, instead we decided our focus should be on the wider development of students.
Our task, therefore, has been to identify what we mean by character and to reflect on how we might set about developing such traits and qualities. The outcome of this work has enabled us to define six character traits that we believe combine important skills and key personal attributes. They are shown in the Character Education diagram.
The challenge for us is to translate these aspirations into meaningful actions that make a real difference to our students. All subjects in the school are asked to consider how character is developed alongside the skills and knowledge that are central to each subject. In addition to this character education is woven into our personal development curriculum and helps form a number of overarching themes for the year.
Finally, we reflected upon the additional opportunities that students have in school. Extra-curricular provision is central to the personal development of students, providing rich and varied experiences that enable them to really learn about themselves whilst providing challenges in a safe and structured way. For 2019-2020 we have introduced team building days in Year 7 to help students be better collaborators, communicators and to be resilient. In Year 9 students will be expected to undertake volunteering activities, beyond school, contributing to their local community. This helps develop empathy and understanding of others. Such additions to our calendar build on numerous existing opportunities, helping students grow as individuals.
We aspire to be a school that really makes a difference to the lives of our students, helping to shape them as learners and as people, with the skills and qualities that can transfer into any walk of life or area of employment.