Character is a set of personal traits that produce specific moral emotions, inform motivation and guide conduct. Character education includes all explicit and implicit educational activities that help students to develop positive personal strengths called virtues. Character education is a place in the culture and functions of families, classrooms, schools and other institutions. It is about helping students grasp what is ethically important in situations and how to act for the right reasons. Students need to decide wisely the kind of person they wish to become and to learn to choose between already existing alternatives or to find new ones. In this process, the ultimate aim of character education is the development of good sense, or practical wisdom; the capacity to choose intelligently between alternatives. This capacity involves knowing how to choose the right course of action in difficult situations and it arises gradually out of the experience of making choices and the growth of ethical insight (Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues 2017).
Our vision at Thomas Aveling School is to enable students to flourish in all areas of their lives, by supporting their development into well-rounded, empathetic beings who are able to contribute and shape society and the wider world, whilst respecting and supporting those who live in it, though the teaching and modelling of good character. Character education at Thomas Aveling School is all-encompassing and is uniquely threaded through all areas of curriculum and personal development opportunities that the students receive. We take character education seriously as we believe it is fundamental to the development of our students
Character education is taught through our registration programme explicitly, and linked carefully to our PSHE programme. Weekly themes, linking to both the registration programme and PSHE are embedded through assemblies, displays and other activities around the school. Subject areas take responsibility for further developing opportunities to discuss virtues and virtue based dilemmas. Whilst the opportunities for students to put their “character” into practise are wide-ranging: extra-curricular clubs including debating club; STEM; music and drama productions, activities week; trips and events such as the Magistrate’s/Crown court and TA Bake off competition; student leadership including events and community; eco-committee; sport leaders; volunteering and charity, and the Duke of Edinburgh award.
Despite all the opportunities that are seized to teach character, both explicitly and implicitly, we believe that the modelling of character is a crucial aspect and to this end, we work with staff and parents/carers on character and character virtues. It is important that staff model good character behaviours and engage in positive character language with students, and therefore this will be an aspect of our CPD programme in the coming year. We engage parents/carers with character education, through parent training events and use a mixture of discussion, research and virtue based dilemmas to demonstrate the key principles we are sharing with their children. This is also presented through our school social media site, allowing parents to keep up to date with the virtue focus of the week.
Leaders of all levels support students’ development as responsible, caring young people. You, Me & Us was introduced in September 2018 and developed into TA Virtues in January 2021 to support our students in their development as active, empathetic and resilient young people. The four virtue categories covered are civic, intellectual, moral and performance and allows students to develop their own characteristics which prepare them for the test of life. A series of activities throughout the year support this including: Random Acts of Kindness, Living Without Harm and Respect. Students are given strategies and support to cope with anxiety, disagreement and conflict - this approach has helped to reduce the number of exclusions as students are becoming more emotionally intelligent. This aspect of the school work, after further evaluation is being re-vamped for September with a more holistic approach being developed.
As part of our curriculum we know the importance of delivering and offering opportunities to support students in becoming well rounded individuals that can flourish in life. As students embark on their journey, we encourage them to take full advantage of what we have to offer. Our TA Virtues consist of 5 character traits which are community awareness, resilience, respect, reflection and critical thinking. These opportunities are varied and delivered throughout the school day. They will encourage all students to develop their own characteristics, at their own pace and to suit their own needs.
Our Character programme:
Our Whole school and PSHE programme is structured around the 5 character traits that make TA Virtues. The many other virtues are delivered during our pastoral structure system, within Out of Hours Learning and embedded within subject areas. The pastoral structure system has a fortnightly virtue focus with is delivered through assemblies, cultural capital, competitions, tasks and reading activities.