Cultural capital blue print


Cultural capital blue print

18 Jan ’16 Leadership 1

A school that whole-heartedly believes in the development of values and virtues needs a blue print. Following up on a handful of conversations, readings, a documentary and a stumbleupon Character Scotland I posed a key question to Executive Officer, Gary Walsh. I am very thankful for his advice as well as sign-posting some useful resources and wider reading.

First I asked about applying a vision to a school.

Context is everything: what is important to you, staff, pupils and parents at your school?

Second I asked about the use of extrinsic rewards as recognition, what for me, is a journey of personal growth.

I think we are a long way from knowing precisely ‘what works’ in terms of specific approaches and programmes. In terms of practice, some of the best evidence seems to be coming from the area of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). Gary Walsh

In a subsequent email, Gary suggested that in terms of recognition I might be interested in reading about SQA Wider Achievement Awards. Another todo, added to the list.

In the mean time I have set myself a series of questions / problems to answer / solve to help clarify my thinking based on one of Gary Walsh’s presentation.

  • Explicitly taught or implicitly applied. Both. Ian Morris has made it simple and clear. Taught. Also implicitly applied, in lessons, beyond the curriculum, through behaviour systems. 
  • Who decides what is good character? Balanced across of the four pillars or moral, civic, performance and intellectual. Staff, parents and carers contribution. Student Voice. Student Leadership.
  • Where is the school cultural strong or weak? SWOT?
  • Focus on the moral is straightforward. Focus on performance is tangible to most staff, parents, carers and pupils. Focus on the intellectual seems natural in education? How will we promote our civic duties.
  • How do we account for cultural or a community bias? First the bias needs to be determined, then incorporated or compensated for.
  • Is it a subject or an approach to curriculum? Or both? With this question – I view values in a similar way to SMSC.
  • What to do in terms of assessment, recognition and measurement? One option is to create an internal accreditation programme. At The Wellington Academy I am working with two colleagues and student leaders on a self reported “Diploma” – where by students blog, report, ask for advocates to evidence their character competencies.
  • What evidence is there available to promote commitment from students that VbE counts? The creation of a diploma or composite award? A range of school led opportunities. Mapped.
  • How prescriptive are we in recognising / defining values? The within, within and beyond or just beyond the curriculum. Ian Morris and I discussed this and agreed, recognise it where you see it. No everyone and not all the reading I have come across agrees with us.
  • Partnership working – grow from the Primary? Contribution from stakeholders.
  • Values-based or principle centred? – I am swaying towards values.
  • How do we protect the staff from “assuming moral superiority?” If that is an issue at all?
  • Should values should be included or separated from the teaching, learning and assessment focus?
  • Should values should formally recognised within or beyond the curriculum?
  • Where is the quantitative evidence for values as a catalyst for academic progress? I am still searching for empirical evidence and have a few resources to read. @NeilHawkes did post that Stamford Welland Academy a VbE school was “in the top 10 non-selective schools in Lincolnshire for their Value Added Score!”
  • To what extent are the values of the organisation aligned with the values and virtues of VbE?
  • In an exam driven system, with so many competing priorities – where is the time? Where to start? This was a key question in the Why Adopt Values-based Education in your school? webinar. The link will take you through to 33m45s.
  • Where does this connect with staff and pupil well-being?
  • How do you over come the reliance on extrinsic motivations? Values driven by rewards in the long term is contradictory.
  • How far should a school’s VbE impose / contribute to “Family Values.”

One of the programmes highlighted was Lottery Funded PATHS Plus, a programme designed to address social and emotional learning, resilience and skills development in children on a universal and targeted basis. PATHS is being implemented in primary schools, in areas of high deprivation and youth offending levels, or with free school meal levels of 35% or above. In summary, PATHS is provided by teachers to their whole class, from Reception to Year 6, through approximately two 25-40 minute lessons per week. It is developmental and comprised of scripted lessons addressing five conceptual domains:

  • self-control
  • emotional understanding
  • positive self-esteem
  • relationships
  • interpersonal problem-solving skills.

Finally, Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) and the work showcased at Character Scotland 2015 Conference.

Of cause, when I reading and learning about values, the words of John Wooden are never very far from my thoughts.


One Response

  1. Gary Walsh says:

    Very happy to be of help Kristian, will be interesting to see where your enquiries take you!

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