Everyone matters and can flourish in a values-led school

Rosemary Dewan

Rosemary Dewan is the CEO of the Human Values Foundation which promotes the importance of teaching human values in schools. Since 1995 it has been providing practical, cross-curricular programmes for personal development and behaviour management, integrating SMSC, PSHE education, Citizenship, PLTS and SEAL.

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Website: www.humanvaluesfoundation.com Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Image credit: Max Pixel Image credit: Max Pixel

Every member of a school community matters. The physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of young children and adolescents are of paramount importance, but it is also vital that there is an ongoing focus on the welfare of all the adults making up the school community. So which values are needed for everyone in a school community to flourish and feel they are on a meaningful, fulfilling life journey?

There are two main types of values:

OUTCOME VALUES – motivational
ones that we work towards achieving, for example: fulfilment, success, happiness, wellbeing, safety, knowledge, independence, making a difference.

ones that underpin the way we live our lives. For example: trust, love, fairness, empathy, environmental awareness, humility, courage, service.

When good, systematic VALUES EDUCATION is an integral part of school life, it empowers learners because over time the challenging, dynamic, reflective process helps them better understand:

  • themselves – as individuals capable of spiritual, moral, social, intellectual and physical growth and development.
  • their relationships – which are fundamental to their development and fulfilment of happy and healthy lives and to the good of the community.
  • themselves as part of society – which is shaped by the contributions of a diverse range of people, cultures and heritages.
  • the environment – which provides the basis of life and a source of wonder and inspiration that needs to be protected.

There is growing concern about the mental and physical health, not only of young citizens but also key adults and role models in their lives – particularly their parents, carers and teachers. So, considering a personal vision and a vision for the school, here is how the conscious use of values enriching everything taking place in a school may be noticed and reported on in one of the Ofsted framework main elements.

But first, here are some ideas about values that may be expressed and lived explicitly, thereby helping to set an inspiring tone from the top so that the school climate and its culture are constantly bringing out the very best in every member of the school community.


* Accountability * Achievement * Aspiration * Balance (Home/Work) * Cohesion * Collaboration * Community involvement * Competence * Continuous Learning * Excellence * Fun * Growth mindset * Life-long learning * Making a difference * Personal growth * Professional growth * Self-discipline * Wellbeing * Wisdom


* Ambition * Adaptability * Authenticity * Caring * Clarity * Coaching/Mentoring * Commitment * Compassion * Courage * Creativity * Efficiency * Empathy * Enthusiasm * Ethics * Fairness * Flexibility * Generosity * Honesty * Humility * Humour * Inclusion * Initiative * Kindness * Love * Meaning/Purpose * Mutual benefit * Openness * Patience * Perseverance * Positive attitude * Proactivity* Recognition * Respect * Service * Teamwork * Trust


  • The headteacher provides inspirational leadership for the school, creating a culture where everyone strives for excellence so that not only does every pupil succeed but, recognising potential in staff, the best is also drawn out of each of them. Complacency is out of the question! Rather, leaders constantly seek to improve the school. Determination and a relentless drive for improvement galvanise all staff, who have formulated a shared vision and are continuously promoting ambition.
  • Forensic analysis of the school’s strengths and areas for improvement ensure leaders know what changes are needed and set goals accordingly. All staff, as well as the governors, know what the present priorities are and precisely how they can be achieved. Collectively, the staff form a very effective team, with individual strengths being used to great effect, as epitomised by the respecting and trusting ethos in every classroom, the excellent relationships between staff and pupils and the very precise and accurate assessment of what each pupil needs to learn.
  • Leaders regularly and rigorously check on the quality of teaching and learning and ensure there is frequent, high-quality training. Staff morale is high because individuals know that leaders will support and guide them.
  • Pupils’ wellbeing and happiness are given the same emphasis as their academic development and consequently, they thrive in the happy, calm and caring environment.
  • The school’s highly inclusive approach results in outstanding support and guidance for pupils who have special educational needs and/or disabilities, the disadvantaged and those who speak English as an additional language.
  • Staff are outward-looking, always seeking ways to learn from others and further improve on the school’s provision for the emerging generation.
  • Excellent systems are used to track pupils’ progress enabling staff to glean information about each pupil. If any is in danger of falling behind, this is quickly spotted and the pupil can catch up because of extra help matching his or her need.
  • The very carefully considered curriculum is designed to meet fully, the needs of pupils and prepare them well for their futures. Basic literacy and numeracy skills are practised in real and relevant activities, linked to other subjects, deepening pupils’ knowledge, understanding and application in different contexts. Pupils can choose from a great number and wide range of opportunities for physical education and sports. They are coached so that they understand how their skills, techniques, character development and energetic activity all combine to enhance their general health and wellbeing.
  • Various high-quality, extra-curricular opportunities, some suggested by pupils themselves, enable them to pursue their interests, refine skills and develop new ones.
  • Pupils’ excellent spiritual, moral, social and cultural development adds a buzz to the school community. Everyone practises and lives the school’s strong core values, which promote good behaviour, and the fundamental British values are interwoven in everything the school does so that pupils develop as well-rounded, responsible citizens. Positive relationships between pupils and staff, together with the school’s caring culture, ensure pupils know they will be listened to should they have any worries or concerns.
  • The relationship with parents is very positive, with parents welcoming the many openings they have to be involved in the school, and appreciating the well-presented information available on the website and the school’s use of social media to communicate in real time.


  • Governors know the harmonious school very well and reinforce the culture of support, challenge and shared ambition found throughout the school.
  • Governors value the wealth of stimulating information given to them by the school leaders and when they visit the school, they are able to build on their understanding of how leaders’ initiatives and actions have positive impacts on the school’s priorities and they ask pupils for their opinions, which are considered when planning for the future.
  • Governors ensure spending decisions are firmly rooted in the best, long-term interests of pupils, seeking to entice their whole-hearted engagement in their learning opportunities and rounded personal development.
  • Governors closely oversee the performance, development and wellbeing of staff, including the headteacher.
  • Governors ensure that all statutory responsibilities, including those relating to safeguarding, are met.

How do you encourage such values in your school community? Let us know below.

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