On 26th January 2022, Shonogh Pilgrim hosted a virtual WE Inspire event. Schools from across the Whole Education Secondary Network joined to discuss how to make the most of House Systems within your school.
The session began with Simon Varley, Deputy Head of Alder Grange School, discussing how the school is in the process of relaunching the house systems. At the school, there are three houses named after local hills in Rossendale: Cribden, Whinberry and Swinshaw. All pupils and members of staff are allocated to a house.
For the last couple of years, Alder Grange School has paused development of their house systems. They have made students aware of house point totals at end of term assemblies, which sports days and inter-house sporting competitions have fed into. However, with this relaunch they are hoping to expand the importance of house systems and introduce a regular stream of competitions running across both the curriculum and extracurricular clubs. One example mentioned was a Design & Technology competition which is running now, where students and staff are designing a golf course.
As part of the relaunch, Simon Varley wanted to hear thoughts, reflections and advice from other Whole Education school leaders. In particular, he was interested in:
- Approaches and strategies schools have used to keep house systems running
- Expectations of school departments on getting involved with the house system and/or running competitions
- Who within the school should hold responsibility for coordinating houses
- How to keep members of staff engaged with the leadership of the houses.
We then heard from Executive Principal Richard Spencer who spoke about his experience of using house systems across Cambridge Meridian Academies Trust (CMAT). At the CMAT schools, the house systems are at the heart of everything they do. Houses are led by a senior member of staff. Each house has its own office with a non-teaching student support assistant, who becomes an invaluable point of contact for both students and parents. Their house systems inform the culture of the schools.
Rebecca Conway, Assistant Principal at Passmores Academy, then spoke about the house systems that are established and embedded within her school. She described the house system as being “the heartbeat of the school”. In 2005, Passmores Academy rethought how their house system worked, moving to a model of vertical tutoring within the houses. Over the years they have been developing inter-house competitions which started with sports events, then to include departmental competitions, and now including achievement points, behaviour points and points for uniform and litter picking. Rebecca said that one of the key parts of their house system is:
“Every member of that house has a sense of belonging and can contribute to that house in some way”.
This WE Inspire event was a great exploration of house systems and what their value and purpose can be within a school. It was great to see how the house systems across CMAT and within Passmores Academy have made a positive impact on the lives of both pupils and parents. Thank you to everyone who came and contributed to this engaging and thought provoking session.
If you have any thoughts or reflections on how to make the most of house systems within your school, WE would love to hear from you. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the end of the session, the secondary leaders discussed what topics they would like to be the focus of future WE Inspire events. These topics included praise and rewards, and the use of zones of regulation to help students develop self-regulation and emotional control. We hope to feature these subjects in upcoming WE Inspire events.
Our WE Inspire network virtual meetings are a great opportunity to hear from, and be inspired by, schools who are successfully providing a high-quality whole education. If you are not from a Whole Education Member School, we would love to invite you to take part in one of our upcoming WE Inspire events. Please complete the form below or email email@example.com to express an interest in attending an upcoming session.