What is Character Education?
Character Education has four important aspects:
Enabling character traits (shown through research) which can improve educational attainment, engagement with school and attendance are:
The best character education does not happen by chance, but is the product of clear and purposeful leadership, a strong ethos and high expectations of pupils, a good curriculum and co-curriculum and strong evidence-based pedagogy
What kind of school are we?
How clearly do we articulate the kind of education we aspire to provide?
How do we ensure that all members of the school community understand and share our aims?
How effectively do we create a sense of pride, belonging and identity in our school?
At Oakhill we develop the whole child so that they leave Oakhill with the skills to continue to thrive and achieve both academically and personally, making a positive contribution to the community whatever their starting points. We believe in the holistic development of all children and strive to ensure that pupils have, use and understand out six school values: ambition, independence, empathy, resilience, respect and confidence.
As a school our school vision, values and curriculum rationale are clear and have been shared with all stakeholders. Our vision and values underpin our school life and are clear to see throughout our curriculum and policies. Professional development meetings and INSET days link continuing professional development training to the vision and values, to ensure that all staff can see how they link to everything that we do in school. Pupils are aware of the school vision and values and, through our behaviour policy, assemblies including our Achievement Assembly, our curriculum, our school teams and pupil voice, they are able to live these values out daily. Our vision and values can also be found on the school website. To ensure equity to all we adapt our curriculum to ensure that it is accessible to all, supporting and developing pupils of all abilities in all curriculum areas.
Our curriculum and co-curriculum pages on our school website share our school vision for each subject. Each subject page sets out what pupils will learn over the academic year and has a short video which provides an insight into the work that we do. In addition to this, our co-curriculum page showcases some of our curriculum enhancements such as, life-skills week and Forest Schools.
To support pupils social and emotional development we have a dedicated ‘Pupil Support Team’ who work with pupils across the school to identify and address barriers to learning and to provide support with any problems children may have both in and out of school. In addition to this, our pupils are taught ‘SUMO’ (Stop, Understand and Move On) strategies to aid them in independently overcoming problems. All staff in school have received training on these strategies and the school has a dedicated ‘SUMO Champions Team’ to further support pupils in this.
Our Achievement Assembly awards provide pupils with the opportunity to be recognised for one of our six school values. Alongside these awards, we also present a pride award which is awarded by each class teacher for pupils who have shown great pride in an aspect of school life over the week. Pride also forms the basis of pupils voice on a half termly basis with pupils discussing what they have been proud of over the half term. The school itself, its grounds and equipment is kept neat, tidy and in good working order so that pupils have a school and a working environment that they can look after and take pride in. Pupils all feel a sense of belonging and are proud to be a part of the Oakhill family. This has been shown through pupil voice.
What are our expectations of behaviour towards each other?
Are we clear on the importance of discipline and good behaviour in school life? How do we promote this understanding?
How well do we promote consideration and respect towards others, good manners and courtesy?
How well do we promote a range of positive character traits amongst pupils
At Oakhill we have high expectations of the behaviour and attitude of all stake holders and expect adults in school to model respectful and positive behaviour at all times that is in-line with our school values.
We have a clear and concise school behaviour policy that has been shared and discussed with all stakeholders. This policy is revisited with staff on a half termly basis to ensure that all aspects of the policy are being followed consistently. The policy has a one-page summary which sets out the key points and mantras from the policy are on staff lanyards and around the school for reference. Pupils were made aware of the behaviour policy through an assembly and this was reinforced by staff, who shared the one-page summary with pupils and practise the mantras. The policy is revisited with pupils on a half termly basis through an assembly and a quiz session. Pupils also take part in pupil voice around the behaviour policy on a termly basis. Through pupil voice, learning walks and lesson visits, it is clear that pupils know and understand the school behaviour policy. They know the 3 school rights (the right to learn, the right to be safe and the right to be respected), the school values, the mantras, the rewards and sanctions in place, and the reason we have a behaviour policy. Pupils are able to explain how our school policy, our reward system and our Achievement Assembly promote and link to our six school values – ambition, independence, empathy, resilience, respect and confidence. Our school teams are also named after these values. Each pupil is assigned to one of these teams and these are displayed in each classroom.
In addition to the behaviour policy, staff professional development has been heavily focussed on teaching pedagogy. This, alongside our consistently applied behaviour policy, contributes to a strong behaviour and attitudes across the school.
All pupils and staff have an understanding of the SUMO (Stop, understand and move on) strategies that are displayed around the school. These strategies help pupils to independently solve any issues/problems that they may have.
How well do our curriculum and teaching develop resilience and confidence?
Is our curriculum ambitious for pupils Does it teach knowledge and cultural capital which will open doors and give them confidence in wider society?
Is our curriculum logically organised and sequenced, including within subjects, and taught using effective pedagogy, so pupils gain a strong sense of progress and grow in confidence?
Our school vision is to develop the whole child so that they leave Oakhill with the skills to continue to thrive and achieve both academically and personally, making a positive contribution to the community whatever their starting points. Our Alumno Curriculum is designed to reflect this vision. It is ambitious and is designed to provide pupils with a wide variety of knowledge and skills that will be built upon in forthcoming years. Cultural Capital and Character Education form a central role in our curriculum as we develop and expose pupils to opportunities that will give them the knowledge, understanding and confidence in wider society. Opportunities for experiences within and out of lessons are planned thoughtfully to provide children with the confidence and opportunities to try new things both independently and collaboratively.
Our curriculum is logically sequenced and organised within and across year groups with key learning points and vocabulary for each unit identified. This has been carefully chosen in-line with the skills, knowledge, understanding and vocabulary needed for subsequent learning both at Oakhill and at their chosen secondary school.
Pedagogical approaches across the subjects vary to ensure that content is delivered in the most appropriate and engaging way, capturing pupil interest and disseminating the knowledge and skills planned. Assessment for learning is planned and used carefully to ensure that all pupils are supported and challenged, make progress and develop confidence.
How good is our co-curriculum?
Does it cover a wide range across artistic, creative, performance, sporting, debating, challenge, team and individual etc. so all pupils can both discover new interests and develop existing ones?
Do we make use of or promote local, national or international programmes or organisations? (e.g. uniformed organisations, Duke of Edinburgh, National Citizen Service etc.)
Is provision of high quality and does it challenge pupils and build expertise? Is participation sustained over time?
Are there ample opportunities for pupils to compete, perform etc., and is success acknowledged and celebrated?
The co-curriculum at Oakhill offers sporting activities, creative and performance opportunities, a bespoke speaking and listening programme (OSAL), Forest Schools and a life skills and safety week. Our co-curriculum provides opportunities to develop individually and collectively and is open to all pupils. There are opportunities to take part for recreational and competitive purposes.
We have a substantial, free after school club programme which includes a wide variety of sports clubs, choir, computing club, science club, art club and Forest School. All of our clubs are open to all pupils on a first come first serve basis to provide all pupils with the opportunity to discover and develop interest and talents. We work closely with the parents of particularly vulnerable pupils to ensure they attend after school clubs of their interest. Through our sports and music clubs, pupils have the opportunities to perform publically both in and out of school. Every year group from Year 1 to Year 6 are taught dance during school time.
In addition to our extensive after school clubs, we have a variety of opportunities to develop gain new knowledge and understanding and to develop key skills.
Our bespoke Oakhill Speaking and Listening programme (OSAL), provides all pupils in KS2 an annual opportunity to plan a presentation on a given topic, recite a performance poetry and read aloud an extract from a book of their choice. These are practised by pupils before their share their work in front of our oracy co-ordinator and a group of peers. Pupils are then graded on their speaking, listening and performance skills.
Life skills and safety week at Oakhill provides pupils with workshops on a variety of safety issues such as, dog safety, water safety, road safety etc alongside skills that we deem essential for life. This includes first aid and money management.
Through the tracking of registers, we know that participation in clubs is sustained over time and successes and performances are celebrated.
How well do we promote the value of volunteering and service to others?
Are age-appropriate expectations of volunteering and service to others clearly established?
Are opportunities varied, meaningful, high-quality and sustained over time?
Do volunteering and service opportunities contribute to breaking down social barriers? Are they effective in making pupils civic-minded and ready to contribute to society?
Our volunteering and service to others is predominantly through in school roles. Pupils in Year 6 are invited to apply for roles as Foundation Stage Helpers, Reading Ambassadors and Ambassadors. All pupils in Key Stage 2 are invited to apply for roles in the School Council. Each of these roles requires pupils to relinquish some of the break/dinner time to help staff and pupils.
Externally, pupils in the choir perform termly for a care home.
How do we ensure that all our pupils benefit equally from what we offer?
Do we understand and reduce barriers to participation (e.g. cost, timing, location, logistics, confidence, parental support etc.)?
Do we enable young people from all backgrounds to feel as if they belong and are valued?
Is our provision, including our co-curricular provision, appropriately tailored both to suit and to challenge the pupils we serve?
We endeavour to make all pupils feel a sense of belonging and pride of self regardless of their background. This is achieved through equality and respect from all staff and pupils. Through our school values and our curriculum, we teach and show pupils that we are all equal. We provide opportunities for discussion on culture and religion through RE where all faiths (including agnostic and atheist) are valued. This is not only through staff delivery, but also through pupils and visitors. When a faith is being discussed we encourage pupils to share their own experiences of faith with their class. We recognise and value cultural and national celebrations, sharing these with pupils.
Through our Reading Canon, pupils are exposed and introduced to a variety of authors and main characters from a black and ethnic minority background. These books also include coverage of slavery and refugees, opening up discussions around historical and cultural events.
Our curriculum and co-curriculum have been designed to support and challenge all pupils and we work hard to reduce and remove barriers to our learning experiences during and before and after the school day. We treat each family as individuals and work tirelessly to ensure that all pupils regardless of their starting points and backgrounds have equal access to all that we offer.