WE were very excited to see two Whole Education secondary schools named as case studies in the new DfE Character Education Framework Guidance document.
Both Walsall Academy and Swavesey Village College were highlighted for their great character education practice helping to deliver a whole education for all.
Character education at Swavesey Village College (page 25)
A village college and academy school where volunteering is embedded into the daily lives of pupils. Before they leave the school, every pupil will have taken part in a volunteering experience. Students take part in extra-curricular clubs, hold leadership roles within school, help run reception, and organise and conduct litter picks. Every year, each of the school’s six Houses pick a charity that they will raise money for over the course of the academic year. Through a variety of activities, they together raise a combined total of around £10,000 a year. To provide focus and recognise achievements the school uses the PLEDGES model (Participation, Leadership, Environmental, Diversity, Giving, Excellence, Service) and students work towards bronze, silver and gold PLEDGES badges, presented at the end of each term.
Swavesey is part of CMAT, and the PLEDGES system is used successfully across in other Trust schools including Ely to build character. Find out more in Ely’s WE spotlight.
Character education at Walsall Academy (page 26)
The school is in a zone of multiple deprivation, designated as a ‘New Deal’ area. The school roll is 1,200 with an all ability intake at Year 7 and a thriving sixth form. Lessons are typically 2.5 hours long, with a longer day allowing for enrichment activities. All pupils and staff use the same venue at the heart of the Academy for breaks.
Every day, students are out of the classroom learning in different environments from art galleries to waterfalls and car manufacturing plants. All 208 pupils in Year 7 have an induction course at the Outward Bound Trust, and through fundraising there is no barrier to any student taking part. This course is the catalyst for learning. The Academy’s assessment procedure gives time for the students to reflect and set targets every half term, using Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle as a basis. As students progress through the school they may choose to attend further Outward Bound courses, refining their skills and taking on more challenging tasks, for example, taking courses designed to raise participation in education and raise aspiration, or learn about sustainability through projects undertaken in the Academy over an extended period of time. Every time a residential takes place, no matter where it goes, the students are filmed and interviewed. These films are shared with the whole Academy on the weekly broadcast. This develops a sense of community and sharing of experiences, with the older students coaching the younger ones as they embark on a residential course.
The Academy bids for funding on an annual basis for those parents who find it difficult to contribute towards the costs of visits. No student is ever disadvantaged due to their parent’s financial circumstances. Pupil premium funding is used to support students in the lower school and bursary funding in the sixth form. The Governing Board keep a close eye on the costs of visits and costs are kept low by price matching and shopping around with tour companies
You can visit Walsall Academy this year using Whole Education’s appreciative inquiry framework as part of our Stand Out Schools Initiative. They will be showcasing their great character education practice on the day- including how they use outdoor learning to develop aspiration,
Congratulations from Whole Education to both schools, as well as all the other schools highlighted for their great approaches to character education!