Imparting Schools' Values and Visions into Day to Day Life
All schools, whether they are trusts or maintained schools, have a set of values that they aim to follow.
The DfE and the ESFA tend to focus on the quantitative side of schooling with an overwhelming emphasis on exam or assessment results. Although these are incredibly important and help set us up to succeed in the professional world, they aren't the be-all and end-all.
Positive behaviours and morals should begin at home, but children spend a large amount of time at school and around their teachers. Children (especially young pre- or primary school children) are sponges who soak up their surroundings to inform of how to think, act and behave. Not having a positive role model at home can directly influence a pupil's behaviour but providing a set of values within schools can go some way to encouraging good behaviour.
Having a set of school values helps to instil positive morals within our students to hopefully enable them to become more well-rounded members of society. However, it is important that the values and vision are at the heart of the school's day-to-day operations and are lived by all school staff members.
Make sure everyone is on board
School leaders should make sure that the values match what teachers believe their role should be. Although it can be easy for the trustees, governors, and school leaders to come together to set the schools values, if they only appear in a policy document and don't influence staff behaviours, then they are not really the values of the school.
Make the values easy to understand
School values tend to be short, punchy statements - often made up of three nouns e.g., respect, kindness, creativity, or confidence. Although the staff and students can often recite the values, there can be disagreement over how to put each value into practice. Does kindness only apply between students, or does it also apply from teachers to students? Does this kindness simply refer to charitable giving or does it mean kindness towards the environment?
Making the values clearer can clarify teachers' and pupils' roles and make sure that they are accountable. Confidence may be "I always believe that I am capable" and respect may become "I will treat people the way I wish to be treated." These statements are still concise but offer more information. Keystone's Visions and Values page is a good example of this informative approach.
Enacting the schools values
Developing positive attributes is essential and should be woven into the very fabric of the school. Here are some ways that you can enact your school's values.
Through their people
- Include all support staff in training about the values this means finding time to talk to exam invigilators, cleaners, catering and site staff as well as teachers and TAs
- All staff should role model the values through their day to say actions
- Creation of a charter or formal set of principles setting out how staff should act/model values
- Appoint 'Values Champions' who are staff or students with a passion to drive change based on the values
- Regular surveys and coffee mornings to find out if people's lived experience is infused by the values
- TLR3 posts for specific projects which support the values
- Review the curriculum to examine the extent to which opportunities to reinforce values have been taken/missed
- Ask external speakers to host talks or assemblies on relevant topics
Through your processes
- Include the values in the onboarding, induction, continued professional development and appraisal arrangements for staff
- Procure a range of books in the library and online resources available to students reflect school/trust values
- Exit interviews (including with students who leave) to find out what worked and what didn't
- Build reflection upon values into lesson planning, curriculum design and observation arrangements
- Participate in opportunities to benchmark practice with other schools/settings to assess progress and assist action planning for next steps e.g ArtsMark, Inclusion Quality Mark, SchoolMark, World Class Schools, etc.
- Self-review to ensure the SEF and SDP both reflect where the school/setting is in terms of enacting values and that actions are planned to further embed values
- Review governing board minutes from a range of meetings to see if the decisions taken demonstrate active deliberation around actions/activities/factors which represent the values in action.
British Values & Cultural Capital
All schools have a responsibility to promote 'British values' as set out in the 'Prevent' strategy in 2011. These include democracy, the rule of law, liberty and respect for those of differing faiths and beliefs. Although these are fundamental to British society, they are human values and will also help make them well-rounded people.
The new 2019 Ofsted framework now requires schools to include 'cultural capital' as a part of their curriculum. Cultural capital was first defined in the 1970s by a French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu as 'familiarity with the legitimate culture within a society'. He believed that, similar to how economic capital helps to dictate your social status, introducing children to the arts helps determine their future successes. A pupil who has a high level of cultural capital has had a wide exposure to different kinds of art, music, and literature, and has access to more. There is a tendency to think of 'cultural capital' as only applying to 'high culture' (e.g. opera, theatre, paintings), but there are many kinds of culture, including TV and books.
Although Bourdieu defined 3 kinds of culture capital, with greater understanding of society, this has expanded.
- Objective – books, films, art
- Embodied – personality, skills, language
- Institutionalised – qualifications, education
- Technical – employable skills e.g. IT
- Emotional – sympathy, empathy, patience
- National – sense of belonging as a citizen or resident
- Subcultural – when people need particular cultural capital to belong to a group
As well as pupils understanding and achievements in traditional subjects, like English, and Maths. Within the framework, the DfE particularly calls on schools in disadvantaged areas to focus on the kinds of cultural capital they may not receive at home. This may include an emphasis on emotional cultural capital.
Children will develop their own morals, but parents and teachers can help to shape pupils into productive members of society. Although this can seem an overwhelming addition to the many other tasks that school staff have to carry out, it should be an exciting and fun way to help develop a new generation.
Values form part of the overall school's culture. Having a positive school culture encourages learning, healthy relationships, happiness, and eagerness to do better – from both staff and pupils.
If you would like to change your school's culture to promote inclusivity, diversity, free speech, and fulfilment, Keystone can help to develop a more harmonious environment. Click here to find out more about Keystone's consultancy services.