One of the academy’s mantras is ‘Character is Key’. This is constantly referred to by staff and is reiterated regularly during assemblies and throughout our Character Days.
Our curriculum and education provision aim to develop the following character traits in our students:
- Determined resilience
- Aspirational work ethic
- Moral awareness and tolerance
- Emotional capacity and understanding
- Fulfilment and enjoyment
Character and educational attainment
Research suggests supporting the development of character traits such as these can improve educational attainment, engagement with school, and attendance. A literature review for the Education Endowment Foundation and Cabinet Office found that:
- High self-efficacy, or self-belief, is associated with better performance, more persistence and greater interest in work
- Highly-motivated children (linked to tenacity), who are driven internally and not by extrinsic rewards, show greater levels of persistence and achievement
- Good self-control (or self-regulation, the ability to delay gratification) is associated with greater attainment levels
- Having good coping skills (part of being able to bounce back) is associated with greater well-being.
Other studies have suggested that:
- Schools which develop character well help drive equity and social mobility for their pupils
- Access to character-development opportunities in schools can lead pupils that take part to be highly motivated, report fewer absences and have lower levels of emotional distress, for example.
The six character benchmarks
When considering the intent, implementation and impact of our character education programme, we have considered the following six Character Education benchmarks included in the Department for Education guidance from November 2019. These benchmarks summarise the most important features of good provision for character education.
What kind of school are we?
- How clearly do we articulate the kind of education we aspire to provide?
- How do we ensure that all members of the school community (e.g. staff, pupils, parents/carers, governing body) understand and share our aims?
- How effectively do we create a sense of pride, belonging and identity in our school?
What are our expectations of behaviour towards each other?
- Are we clear on the importance of discipline and good behaviour in school life? How do we promote this understanding?
- How well do we promote consideration and respect towards others (pupils and adults), good manners and courtesy?
- How well do we promote a range of positive character traits among pupils?
How well do our curriculum and teaching develop resilience and confidence?
- Is our curriculum ambitious for our pupils? Does it teach knowledge and cultural capital which will open doors and give them confidence in wider society?
- Is our curriculum logically organised and sequenced, including within subjects, and taught using effective pedagogy, so pupils gain a strong sense of progress and grow in confidence?
How good is our co-curriculum provision?
- Does it cover a wide range across artistic, creative, performance, sporting, debating, challenge, team and individual etc. so all pupils can both discover new interests and develop existing ones?
- Do we make use of or promote local, national or international programmes or organisations? (e.g. uniformed organisations, Duke of Edinburgh, National Citizen Service etc.)
- Is provision of high quality and does it challenge pupils and build expertise? Is participation sustained over time?
- Are there ample opportunities for pupils to compete, perform etc., and is success acknowledged and celebrated?
How well do we promote the value of volunteering and service to others?
- Are age-appropriate expectations of volunteering and service to others clearly established?
- Are opportunities varied, meaningful, high-quality and sustained over time?
- Do volunteering and service opportunities contribute to breaking down social barriers? Are they effective in making pupils civic-minded and ready to contribute to society?
How do we ensure that all our pupils benefit equally from what we offer?
- Do we understand and reduce barriers to participation (e.g. cost, timing, location, logistics, confidence, parental support etc.)?
- Do we enable young people from all backgrounds to feel as if they belong and are valued?
- Is our provision, including our co-curricular provision, appropriately tailored both to suit and to challenge the pupils we serve?