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Deputy Head's Blog: The Importance of Character

Posted on 15th Feb 2019 by Chris Barnes

I wonder how many times each of us has heard a person described as being ‘of good character’? Or, conversely, as being ‘a bit of a character!’ Each conjures up particular images: perhaps positive, negative or humorous! We recognise instantaneously the importance of character in those with whom we associate, but the development of character is an ongoing process. At Edenhurst, this is something that we have been reflecting on carefully and thinking about the kinds of ‘characters' that leave us each year.

Ultimately, we want Edenhurst children to be recognised as having a number of traits. We aspire for them to be, amongst other things: reflective; active learners; agile and adaptable; intellectually curious; brave risk-takers; kind, caring and empathetic; emotionally intelligent; confident; motivated; creative; moral; able to cope with change, both sudden and gradual. This our roadmap and begins when a child enters Edenhurst, whether through the Nursery or higher up the school. We believe that academic success, at whatever level, is a by-product of these traits, rather than something that has to be there for them to develop. 'Character education' is about preparing children for the tests of life, rather than a life of tests.

This is an umbrella term for implicit and explicit activities that help young people to develop values. It is about helping pupils grasp what is ethically and morally important in a situation for the right reasons. It is not about indoctrination or mindless conditioning. The ultimate aim is to help children develop ‘good sense' and practical wisdom, and the capacity to choose wisely between given alternatives. Importantly, it is more than a subject - it has a place in the culture and function of families, classrooms, schools and businesses. With life and circumstances meaning that children spend an increasing amount of time in school, a strong partnership between home and school is vital in character development.

There is no set list of skills that schools should teach, nor should there be. As a school we have chosen to focus on those that fall broadly under four areas:

  • Civic
  • Moral
  • Intellectual
  • Performance

As a staff, we have identified the skills and virtues that we wish to model and encourage in our pupils.  We believe in service and volunteering; self-sacrifice, gratitude, humility; creative thinking; determination. These are our starting points as we embark on a new journey…but this is a journey where three are working together: pupils, home and school. As the writer of Ecclesiastes wisely remarked, ‘a rope with three cords cannot be broken’.  And so it will be with this, as we seek to NURTURE, grow and develop the traits that will help them succeed in the world of tomorrow.