Several children visit my office each week to receive Head’s Awards. I so enjoy talking to the children about their learning and their achievements, witnessing their pride and willingness to talk openly about their learning, hearing about their interests and their thoughts about school. My discussions with them encouraged me to reflect on the factors that contribute to a child’s success. The children, regardless of age, spoke confidently and articulately. Not arrogant or self-assured, but polite, modest and appropriately assertive.
the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.
One of the first things I tell parents who visit me to find out more about Heywood is that we are hugely ambitious for our pupils. We are ambitious for them academically, artistically, musically, socially, in sport, or indeed wherever their individual strengths may lie. Our role is to offer them numerous opportunities to allow them to uncover their strengths and to develop and nurture those strengths, whilst also supporting their areas for development. But there is a foundation required to build their success on. That foundation is good character, which I believe is fundamental to the success of our well-rounded and confident children.
Each parent and child is familiar with our school assemblies, the themes and moral values we share as a community. But character education cannot be achieved in one assembly or through a timetabled ‘character education’ lesson. School life is full of opportunities in every lesson, play time, 1:1 reading session, a meal enjoyed together, discussion with the Headmistress, or through the planned curriculum.
Heywood’s values help us to ‘live and breathe’ these principles and to guide the children’s moral, ethical, social and reasoning skills. Further, the curriculum supports the children’s character education, gently pushing their development from their first day in Reception. They are challenged; given opportunity to reflect; taught to be empathetic; encouraged to question; taught take time to appreciate the world and the people around them; and, importantly, they discover their specific strengths and learn to value their personal individuality.
The children’s success begins with character education, rather than it being a finishing activity that ‘polishes up’ our most senior pupils to be ready to shine outside the Heywood gates. Research proves that character education contributes positively to academic success and so these two objectives are interdependent and impact positively on one another. The breadth of our curriculum, strong pastoral care, sense of community and range of opportunities beyond the classroom ensures that our pupils develop their own unique character. I am hugely proud of each and every one of them and watch with great interest as their individual characters blossom.