Do you know what your school values are?

How are they shared with the students?

And the parents?

Or the staff and governors?

Soul image RSA

After reading the “Schools with Soul” research completed by the RSA (,-cognition-and-creativity/education/reports-and-events/reports/schools-with-soul) I started to think about these questions in the context of my current school and previous schools I have worked in. My current school, in my opinion, has a very clear view of the values it shares with all of its community. They are regularly talked about by the staff and shared with the students. In my opinion it is what is special about the place. But could we do more? Do we need to be more explicit about our values in our everyday work?

Recommendations 5 and 6 (below) have provided me with some ideas about how to start but I am also interested in reconfirming what we think we do to develop the well-being of our students. One of the school development points this year is to review our behaviour policy. I intend to ask staff and students to identify from a list like this what they think are values are to see if we are in agreement.

Schools with Soul – Recommendations 5 and 6

(5) School governing bodies should take full ownership of a school’s SMSC policy and where necessary, reshape a school’s overall purpose and ethos.

(6) School leaders should consider:

  • building SMSC development into reporting systems for parents and students
  • building SMSC into teachers’ performance management systems
  • using pupil premium funding to support the development of SMSC outcomes, linked to strategies for closing attainment gaps

I think that reviewing what we do to deliver the SMSC element of our school curriculum will help provide a different conversation which isn’t just about examination results but will hopefully have an impact on our overall results.

For the record I think our 3 values are:

  • Excellence
  • Humility
  • Respect

Schools with Soul – Recommendation 1 – remains my favourite.

Everyone involved in education in the UK should designate 2015-16 (the academic year after the next general election) as a “year of reflection” when:

  • no schools-related policies are announced by the Department for Education (DfE) or any other agency
  • no schools are forced to become academies
  • no Ofsted inspections take place apart from re-inspections of those schools which have been judged inadequate, and inspections of new Free Schools and academies, and
  • no organisations publish any new policy proposals for schools

I am hoping that (unlike some of the schools I have worked in) if more people adopt the ideas proposed in the RSA report than the values of their schools might be more than something which is just written in the school prospectus….





2 thoughts on “values

  1. Apologies that I’ve only just come across your blog, Martyn, and many thanks to the link to the RSA document, which I hadn’t seen.

    Absolutely agree with the principle behind the report, and the crucial importance of SMSC. Just one thought occurred to me, though. I taught in four state schools and two independent schools, and the last two schools (where I was deputy and then head) were independent schools which were inspected by ISI rather than Ofsted. ISI is the Independent Schools Inspectorate which inspects schools within the Independent Schools Council – schools which educate around 80% of independently educated pupils in the UK (apologies if you know all this). Their inspection system is rigorous, and overseen by Ofsted, but it’s more ‘humane’ in a number of ways, one of which is that all Team Inspectors are serving, or recently serving, heads and senior leaders themselves. Only the lead inspector, the RI (Reporting Inspector), is a professional inspector who will lead several inspections a year (often the serving TIs only manage one inspection a year). RIs have usually been former HMI, but there are a raft of RIs coming through who become lead inspectors after they retire from headship (and many of them are brilliant).

    I’m a TI and have done about a dozen inspections since 1999. I was also Chair of the Girls’ Schools Association Inspection Committee for a few years, so read multiple ISI reports over that time.

    Interestingly, provision for SMSC is rated outstanding (‘excellent’ in ISI terms) in something like 90% of cases (and ‘good’ in the rest). It’s a real strength of the sector. ‘Teaching’ is far more often rated ‘good’ with ‘excellent/outstanding’ features. To get overall ‘excellent/outstanding’ for teaching is actually much harder than to get that grade for SMSC.

    It just made me think!

    Also (and sorry this reply is becoming longer than your original post!) I’m involved in the delivery of a four-week online course on ‘Leading an Independent School’ and we spend the first week looking at ‘vision and values’. I’d really like to include a link to this blog post, if you’re happy for me to do that. Let me know?

    Many thanks.


  2. Hi Jill,

    Thanks for taking the time to respond to the post. To ‘find’ the blog in the first week isn’t bad going.

    Seems like ISI is a more favourable way of making judgements shame we are not all treated the same! Maybe one day!

    I think there is a massive amount which could be shared between sectors which is missed. Think we have a lot to learn about developing SMSC in the state sector definitely.

    I would be very happy for you to link the post.Thanks for taking the time to read and share it.

    Appreciate your support.



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