School victory through vision and values

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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Image credit: Flickr // woodleywonderworks. Image credit: Flickr // woodleywonderworks.

Throughout the world, movements are emerging to ensure excellent practices are being embedded into whole-school approaches to teaching and learning, so that holistic, whole-child development is promoted, enabling every young person to build confidence in their abilities and flourish.

How does a school’s vision help?

Establishing a vision is a motivational, unifying exercise. It opens contributors’ minds to the endless possibilities of the future for every member of the school community, taking into account how young people need to be equipped to manage their day-to-day “Shared values build internal cohesion throughout the school.”lives successfully and for the challenges and changes that lie ahead. The process brings together creative ideas that generate goals, which can be distilled into clear pathways towards everyone achieving more. It also leads to the school’s emerging young citizens feeling that they are being well supported as they embark on their lifelong journey of learning.

A vision is a powerful means of maintaining a focus on what is desired, especially when the going gets tough. It needs to be reviewed by school leadership from time to time so that it remains current. Any necessary changes in direction must be recognised and acted upon in order for constant growth, improvements and brighter, better outcomes.

Why are values so important?

Values are standards, beliefs and principles that act as anchors and guideposts for our thinking, decision-making and actions. As individuals and organisations, be they families, schools, businesses, or any other group, our carefully considered and chosen values help us to be consistent in our turbulent day-to-day lives as we make choices, plan for the kind of future we want to experience, and work towards accomplishing specific goals.

For individuals, thoughtfully selected values can bring about a sense of balance, wellbeing and internal cohesion. Shared values build internal cohesion throughout the school. A school’s core values define its culture, and are often agreed upon collectively with suggestions coming from everyone making up the school community: SLT, teaching and non-teaching staff, learners and their parents and carers.

Positive, well-chosen values are empowering and when actively lived by, add a noticeable sparkle to the individuals themselves. If there is also buy-in from a group, they form a special glue that enables it to remain strong and on course. The profound sense of togetherness often leads to members enjoying uplifting celebrations of all kinds of victories, some large with others seemingly small but very significant.

Characteristics of victorious schools

Learning is an adventure. It’s most engaging when the subject matter resonates with the individual. A victorious school leadership team provides a safe, enabling environment and a rich, broad and balanced curriculum with excellent, inspired teaching. The deliberately comprehensive education system continuously opens up pathways to the integrated nurturing of the whole child. This means that, throughout all the learners’ school careers and on into their adult lives, they can discover who they are, better understand themselves and acquire the necessary attitudes, skills and knowledge to flourish, maximise their full potential, be happy and succeed.

Victorious schools have high expectations, with both children and staff feeling valued. The climate is very supportive, and conducive to everyone striving to do and be their best. There is a sense of togetherness and collaboration that enables achievement. School leaders should aim to provide a complete education and a global outlook that draws out its learners’ unique personalities, talents, passions and interests, all the while fostering essential character strengths and a growth mindset, as well as encouraging natural curiosity and imagination.

Schools must be conscious of the need for flexibility and competencies appropriate for our fast-changing, complex and challenging world. As such, school leaders must foster young people’s wellbeing and develop their values literacy so that they have a solid foundation for making informed choices about all the dimensions of their daily lives: spiritual, physical, intellectual, emotional and social.

Staff know they are role models and mentors, and that the emerging generation is looking to them for guidance. An interdisciplinary approach to learning and study helps to make the education process relevant, engaging and vibrant and fosters personal qualities that promote sustainable, successful, fulfilling lives.

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