These are the values we should be concerned with. These are values for humanity and they are the same no matter the country we live in or the culture we’re brought up in.
It’s been 7 months since we started our values journey and in my opinion 7 of the best months I have had in school during my 7 years here. I’d like to point out the time that went before values was in no way bad but this school year has been defined by positivity and warmth between staff and students. I recently retweeted my initial values blog entry and then connected with some like minded teachers and engaged in an interesting Twitter conversation about the power of Values Based Education and how we should all be focussing on this area rather than worrying about British Values! This conversation has inspired me to reflect on our VbE journey, so here’s what I have learnt whilst travelling on this path. I hope it will support anyone who is considering introducing VbE in their school and be of interest to anyone sharing a love of VbE.
In my first blog entry I wrote about how we decided on our values for the first year.
This is just my experience BUT I now feel it’s better to decide on your first year values and then reflect on how the children have responded and the school has embedded them and only then at the end of the school year decide on your second set of values. For me this is more beneficial as we did not involve parents in our first year values. They have now experienced our practice and been informed about assemblies, activities and the language of each value and they are now in a good position to offer some opinions for our second set of values.
Keeping values at the fore of practice – I have learnt for VbE to be a success and make an impact staff and children need to be practising, talking about and thinking about values everyday. We need to keep our eye on the prize!
The weekly assemblies, values leaves and some extremely committed teachers and TAs have ensured that our values have stayed at the fore of all we do.
I regularly walk into a classroom and hear a teacher naturally referring to a value as part of the lesson. This is an example of what I heard last week during a year 3 English lesson about persuasion.
Teacher- Should animals be kept in zoos?
Child – yes because it means people can see them
Another child – No because they don’t have much space
Teacher- That’s true people like to look at wild animals but last time I went to the zoo the big tiger had a small enclosure and did not look happy and there was a man banging on the window and shouting at the tiger. I wonder how the tiger felt?
Child – scared and upset. Why didn’t you stop him?
Teacher- I know I should have done but I was a bit scared of him I should have had more courage shouldn’t I? What could I have said?
Child – you could have said stop that and have more respect!
Both courage and respect have been school values. This is just one of numerous examples of teachers weaving our values into their lessons on a daily basis.
The same is true of a walk onto the playground where the majority of duties are carried out by TAs but the values message is as strong here. Almost every incident that is dealt with uses the language of values to rectify it through explanation and questioning. I often hear- what value could you have better shown during this problem? How could you solve this problem using one of our values?
- These have been essential in our approach to Values. I do two weekly values assemblies; one for ks1 and the other for ks2. Here’s what I’ve learnt works
- To ensure participation and a full understanding of each value assemblies need to be differentiated for ks1 and ks2.
- In ks1 assemblies use stories with pictures to support each value and stimulate discussion. Books from Amazon displayed through kindle for PC work best during an assembly.
- In ks2 assemblies use stories of inspirational people to support the value.
- Relevance to the children’s lives are crucial- we learnt about Bob Geldof and Midge Ure and their act of charity through Live Aid in the same week band aid 30 was released. Many children then went and downloaded the new single. I used the Hong Kong student protests to help illustrate manners and politeness in situations when anger could take over. Children then became aware of these protests and followed the news intently.
- All members of staff need to be present to hear the message and use it in their classroom practice.
- Getting the music right is essential. The children always enter Values assemblies to music and know there will be questions about the lyrics. I love more modern music and have used Cat Stevens Don’t be shy, Rod Stewart Never Give Up on a Dream, The Thomas Tank Engine Determination song and The Bucket filler song to name a few.
- Use of video grabs children’s attention and I ensure every assembly has a video clip as way of highlighting our Value.
- Thunks are great and now form an integral part of every assembly. The children enter to mucis and sit in silence considering not only the lyrics of the song but a THUNK that is displayed on the screen. My first question of the assembly is always- So what do you think aboout the THUNK?
- A few assembly thunk examples can be seen on the first slide of these presentations
- KS2 Grit
- KS2 wk1
- Good assemblies take a lot of preparation so on occasion use an off the peg assembly. Buy this book for quality values assemblies that take very little preparation even better each assembly has an associated image contained on the CD included with the book. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Twenty-First-Century-Assembly-Classroom-Activities/dp/1781350078
Some of my favourite videos used in full or part in assemblies are below
Emapthy and Compassion – this has been played and played ever since in all classrooms!
Respect differences and yourself
Determination and resilience
Communicating with parents- here’s what I’ve learnt
- Parents will actually read newsletters when they feel they can be involved in a part of school, therefore I try to detail what the children have been learning about so parents can follow this up at home. It seems to be working! All my news letters follow the same format.
- Here are some examples of my newsletters
Another practice that’s worked really well for us is linking values to practical activities works to give the value purpose and ensure children never forget it’s importance. Some examples are below
Manners and politeness – European languages day- children looked at the language of politeness in other countries
Respect – Respecting other cultures through our Culture box project.
Charity – The children organised a bring and buy sale, art exhibition and raffle
Empathy and compassion- children visited and sang Christmas carols in local nursing homes
Caring for the environment – during this month litter monitoring teams for the playground were introduced and the school garden initiative also launched.
And finally I’ve learnt that children are never too young to start talking about values. My ks1 assemblies have demonstrated this. This term I plan to do assemblies in Foundation Stage using my ks1 approach and linked to the values we have already covered in the main school.