When we started to unpick the values that our school community wanted our children to have, we narrowed it down to just 4; Resilience, Respect, Resourceful and Collaborative. We firmly believed that if our children had these 4 key values, we would set them up as learners for life; not just children who achieved well and were academically astute but lovely people too who had an interest in others and the world around them, yet were strong, mindful people who had an inner confidence.
This was the very first value that we began to unpick with the children when we began values teaching and it’s the one we probably refer to the most with them; all day, every day! Being resilient means weathering the storm, going back and trying again, doing something now because it will help in the future. In terms of their learning, we also link resilience to ignoring distractions and not creating any for others. This is hugely important to allow children to be ‘in the flow’ of learning, something we also link to work on our effort mountain. This great picture of children at the bottom of the mountain they later climbed in Wales. I remember standing at the bottom of it and drawing on the lessons of resilience that they used in class and how this might be needed to go up the mountain. Children’s sense of achievement is so closely linked to the sense of resilience they show and by talking about it and making it real for them in a range of contexts.
Back in 2012, CBI produced a report entitled ‘First steps; a new approach for our schools’ and it was around this time that we were beginning to role out our new school values to children. At the heart of this report from the business community, was the desire to have a workforce who were confident at working with people; could share and learn from each other and work together for a better future. We talk, model, share and guide our children all of the time to be collaborative learners but to also know the power of one. To know that it is down to them to make a difference and sometimes, working together means compromise in order to reach rewards. Our residentials provide a practical application of collaboration as demonstrated in this climbing photo but it runs much deeper than this. Our talk partners, used every day in class, encourage children to work with others who may not normally be their choice of partner and we have had fantastic results and discoveries about children’s strengths with this. The peer mentor scheme encourages children to lead other children in being collaborative and taking different roles with much success.
From good table manners through to waiting at a doorway or understanding another person’s beliefs, respect is a fundamental part of our society and was part of our school values long before British Values were introduced into the curriculum! Teaching of this is not isolated to school alone and although it runs as a thread throughout our everyday teaching and learning, we do pick it up as a particular focus at least once a year for a term. Each term, our PSHE teaching in classes is focused on an aspect of social and emotional development as well as an aspect of British Values so respect is high on our agenda at all times of the year through direct teaching. Our relationships education and e-safety teaching focuses on the need to have respect for yourself so that you know what you would and wouldn’t tolerate and this is linked to right and wrong.
The last of our first 4 values, resourceful is by no means the least important. To be resourceful is to use all that you know, draw upon it without being prompted and ask questions. We feel that this value links to creativity – asking good quality questions, engaging with others and with texts and information online, looking for patterns and connections between knowledge or experiences that they have and knowledge or experiences they might be gaining. Most importantly, being resourceful relies on using what you already know and not relying on someone else to do it for you! This ties in with our new value of responsibility but, on its own is a crucial learning point for children and that learning takes time which is why we hold this value particularly dear.
In September 2016, we introduced a fifth value of pride. Since we introduced and worked on the values above which are now the ‘currency’ of learning across the whole school, we felt that children relied too heavily on adults to be proud of them when what’s most important is that they are proud of themselves. This stems from the need for us as humans to be intrinsically motivated to do something ie. to get a reward from it ourselves, rather than rely upon an extrinsic motivator such as a sticker or success point. After a term of direct teaching of this value both in class and in assembly, we are now using it in the same way the rest of the values are being used – they pervade every aspect of our school day; producing work you are proud of, showing a pride in our school by wearing the correct uniform, treating each other as we would like to be treated ourselves, having a pride in where we come from and who we are. You see, it’s everywhere!!
Our sixth value and the newest one for the children. It underpins everything and we had quite a debate about whether it was even a value but we feel it is because it requires all of us to share ownership in this key aspect of life and take responsibility for our own actions and decisions. We encourage children in the upper school to take on responsibilities; peer mentors, assembly setting up, showing around new children and much more but we also encourage responsibility throughout the school with our school councillors and buddy system. Through the buddy system, you are no longer responsible for yourself but for someone else too. The older person in the pair takes care of the younger one in school, at playtimes, whilst walking to the church or on a family activity day. The buddies encourage each other to look away from their egocentric approach to life and consider their impact on others. Whether it’s taking responsibility for rehearsing your instrument or for your behaviour, we are unpicking what responsibility means for our children with them this term. Watch this space for how it goes!