20/7/2023 0 Comments
Lyndsey Bolton of the Alumnis Multi Academy Trust led the final session of the SWIFT Character Education Professional Community looking at how to develop a co curriculum that explicitly develops character, enhanced by enrichment and developed by curriculum offers and opportunities for children as part of Character 'sought'.
A class teacher and Character Education Lead across the Trust, Lyndsey has always been passionate about providing children with opportunities to build themselves as strong, courageous, resilient and creative individuals and uses the term “characterful” explicitly and clearly. She started her own character journey building on research work with the Jubilee Centre that provides a useful resource bank for teachers to take the tools back into school and provide creative and innovative ways to teach character through the curriculum.
Character needs to be taught.
Do not take it for granted that children will soak it up. Or leave it to chance. But provide environments and a culture where they can catch it and seek it.
Think about how to message to children and connect it with the curriculum.
What does it do?
Character is an essential part of Personal Development within the Ofsted Framework.
Lyndsey reported on a recent Ofsted Outstanding judgement in one of the Trust schools. During Ofsted visits the children have “sung character” throughout the inspection in the way that they spoke, conducted themselves, and demonstrated behaviour for learning in action.
Lyndsey is always keen to champion that schools do not work in isolation. But if something is going really well or is in a positive stage of development, to share it in their communities and to learn from one another. Hence the work of this Professional Community.
Lyndsey has worked with children and staff to create characterful approaches rooted in the Trust vision of 'Inspiring Changemakers'.
Careful consideration is given to the language used in all classrooms and across all the Trust schools that is intentional, explicit and supports each practitioner to weave in impactful opportunities to develop personally and holistically; putting virtues in action.
Planned and intentional opportunities to link teaching character through discussion, events, stories in the classroom and assemblies help children to internalise, process and reflect on how to recognise it and then live it.
For example, how did they feel when they spoke out? How can they learn for next time?
Consider what does it look like across all the year groups and think about the progression. The Alumnis approach is developed from Early Years and throughout the children's educational career.
Consider the challenges, but be creative and courageous in shaping your opportunities and enhance what is happening in curriculum time.
Map out where children can have multiple opportunities to develop their character throughout the academic year.
Confidence is a huge issue and can be difficult for some children. But ultimately, character education and developing a characterful culture within our schools for adults and children can guide them to see the opportunities as positive as they flourish as human beings.
As part of the session, there was discussion about the work of the participants and it was agreed that the legacy of Covid is still being felt in changes in character across schools with work to be done.
For instance, Nick Banwell shared the “11 by 11” work of ESW Multi Academy Trust in South Devon in creating opportunities for character development at primary by the time they reach age 11 and for secondary, by the time they reach Year 11.
Opportunities are created across key topics, including enrichment, community, careers, forest school, environment, culture, arts, leadership, and mental wellbeing. All the schools are encouraged to connect and learn from each other and to build on their experiences. Given limited funds and pressured curriculum time, ESW is developing a link with the local Rotary Clubs who go into the schools and work alongside the children and provide various support.
We thank Lyndsey for leading this session and adding an encouraging and enabling clarity about Character Education that can be bespoke for schools to make their own energy and to feel like they are part of a bigger picture of driving forward school improvement with character development as the foundation.
Listening to these sessions always gives me hope.
Report by Jude Owens, PA to the SWIFT Executive Team