Character Education

Character Education can be defined as the active development of character strengths or virtues in young people. The practice of character education is based on the view that these strengths are not merely given but can be developed through instruction and practice.

Our work in this area is premised upon two ideas. First, that character is both ‘taught’ and ‘caught’. Taught because pupils need to learn directly about character strengths and virtues, and to be given opportunities to practise them. Caught because students need to be exposed to the concepts and language of character throughout their experience of school. This is best delivered through the ethos of the school, by teachers and other adults in school acting as role models, by empowering students to be role models and recognising them publicly as such, and by engineering enrichment activity so that it emphasises character development.

The second idea is that there are five core dimensions to character: intellectual, performance, moral, civic and practical wisdom. These are shown in the diagram below. A complete character education seeks to develop pupils along all five dimensions, and in this broad conception, character encompasses academic achievement as a route to the development of intellectual character strength.

We recognise these five core dimensions in our call for students to make us ‘PROUD’, the mnemonic reminding us to be: Principled, Resilient, Open, Understanding and Disciplined, and referring to the five sets of character virtues or dimensions (moral, performance, intellectual, civic and practical wisdom respectively).

As such, our curriculum is infused with opportunities for students to develop their character strengths and virtues. These are complimented by a weekly Character Assembly delivered by the heads of each year and three weekly character lessons delivered by class tutors, which teach students explicitly about character virtues and their interplay. Together, discrete and embedded learning gives the students the knowledge, language and moral exemplars to help them continue strengthening their character.

Further to this, we have identified ‘50 things to do at Eastbrook School before you’re 18 ¾’ a set of enriched experiences defined by students, parents and staff that we believe to be character building in the truest sense. These experiences are embedded in our curriculum as authentic outcomes to learning.

Character Education also informs our whole school approach to behaviour management. This is best described in the ‘Code of Conduct’ produced for students, parents and staff, and designed to ensure a shared understanding for all and a continuity of approach. The approach combines clearly defined rules and clearly defined character virtues to guide students in making good choices.

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