I forgot I wrote this. Twelve years ago I was Deputy Head at Berkhamsted Collegiate Prep School (now Berkhamsted Prep School). I was writing a blogpost on a site I created for a group of us who had met at an IAPS Aspiring Heads conference.
The post was written at the time when “Citizenship Education” was being discussed as the next thing to introduce to young people; aiming to develop character and values that would provide them with firm foundations in their lives ahead. It was this point – the impact on the children’s lives in the future along with the need to develop whole school culture that lead me to ask the questions:
How are we to educate for future responsibility? My Year 6 classes or my 1W RE form are not simply the 6- or 11-year-olds in front of me now. They are the voting 20-somethings or parents with purchasing power in 10 or 20 years time. So these future-adults must be able to participate in an environment which instills core values of kindness, care, humility and self-confidence. Surely school management issues and not merely to be stuffed away as a subject within the curriculum?
Throughout my career, from Environmental Education in Florida to Prep School Headship, I have sought ways to manifest a social and environmental responsibility in school curriculum and culture. Having established the principles of Education for Social Responsibility in IAPS 5 years ago, I was delighted to find this post. I was equally delighted to realise that I have remained consistent in the intervening dozen years or so with this from January 2017…
What we are aiming to do is to equip children – or perhaps more accurately the future adults who these children will become – with the mental tools to feel confident, capable and unafraid. Happy to learn to cope with and overcome any challenge that they face; to enjoy, and above all relish, the opportunity to try something easy as well as hard.
Now, after 12 years, it is a pleasure to be working in schools that fully embrace the development of virtues, values and character and its impact on outcomes. ‘Twas ever thus, of course, yet the time for antipathy and derision is over. We understand instinctively that focusing on behaviours and attitudes to learning leads to improvement. I am delighted that we can now give full vent to our passions and create schools and school systems that grow stronger and more successful communities.