There’s a big welcome from Whole Education for the announcement from the Secretary of State, Nicky Morgan, of a £5m fund to support schools to develop character, through school sports, debating and other activities inside and outside the curriculum.
Whole Education schools have for some time been focused on the both/and: on developing character, resilience and wellbeing, while at the same time delivering on exam results; developing local curriculum in the space that the national curriculum leaves for schools.
While it is welcome, £5m will not go very far across 20,000 schools in England. What we need are smart system solutions to this problem, devised by school leaders and teachers for whom a fully rounded education is what they are aiming to give to all their pupils. There is no single way to do this and schools in the Whole Education Network are developing a range of approaches.
Whole Education has been working with a number of partner organisations who can support schools in different areas. We are proud to announce the launch of our Development and Innovation Hub on 15 October, which brings together schools and specialist organisations to work jointly to provide a more rounded education. This hub will pool resources – both financial and people – to help ensure that the Whole Education Network operates as a self-improving system in all aspects of practice, including developing character, resilience and wellbeing.
This is something for every school and every young person in the school system. Just as Eton College and other expensive independent schools make a ‘whole education’ a key part of their mission, so every state school can be planning what a ‘whole education’ might include in the context of the community they serve.
This is of particular importance in schools serving disadvantaged communities, as well as schools that have a mixed intake and are attempting to close the gap between the attainment of disadvantaged children and their more fortunate peers. Young people from poorer backgrounds are less likely to have a broad range of experiences outside school or to have opportunities to develop a wide range of skills, so schools need to plan particularly carefully the ways in which skills and knowledge can be built into the curriculum – a productive use of pupil premium funding to help close the gap.
We look forward to hearing at our 5th Annual Conference, ‘An Education Worth Having’ (November 18-19), what our schools and our partners are doing in this area. This includes breakouts such as “Developing character and resilience inside and outside the curriculum” and “Ensuring an entitlement to a cultural education“, as well as over 20 table sessions where schools are sharing the innovative work they have been doing with our partner organisations. We will also hear from John Hattie on the importance for the profession to ensure that all young people benefit from an entitlement to a whole education.
Sir John Dunford is chair of Whole Education and is the national Pupil Premium Champion.
Follow John on Twitter @johndunford