Character Educators in Focus: Chris Clyne & Carlington Anderson

This month’s Character Educators in Focus are Chris Clyne, who is Principal at Northampton Academy and Carlington Anderson, who is Director of Character at Northampton Academy. Northampton Academy is a large secondary school including Sixth Form. It was one of the first schools in the country to be awarded the Association for Character Education School of Character Kitemark, in 2018.

What interested you about character education?

Chris always had an interest in the personal development side of teaching, he believes this comes from his mother who has always worked in social care. Those values of caring for others became ingrained in Chris from an early age. Carlington lives by a deep set of values in his personal life, and consequently developed his career through the Pastoral route. Carlington admits that he was searching for a ‘calling’ in education and he found that when he arrived at Northampton Academy – the Character Programme made sense as a next step for him. Everything he had been doing for the last few years fell into place, and from Chris and Carlington’s first meeting they realised that they both fundamentally believed in the importance of developing character in young people, and had a common ground to start from.

What are your roles at Northampton Academy?

Chris and Carlington work closely, with Chris appointing Carlington as the Director of Character in June 2018. Carlington is the engine room of Northampton’s character education programme; not only is he someone that the students relate to and trust, he also achieves buy-in from staff and parents. Northampton’s character programme is delivered from the ground up by Carlington, who progresses the strategic plans and vision into the operational day to day – he works hard to turn the school’s ambitious ideas into a reality.  

When Chris joined in 2017 as Vice Principal, one of his remits was to bring Character Education to Northampton Academy. Chris is now Principal at the Academy, and as such, he must set the tone and the direction for the whole school community. Chris believes, as leaders, it is vital to steer and engage the school community towards an aligned goal. He does this at Northampton by using clear and regular communication in regards to their vision and values, this ensures clarity and consistency from all key stakeholders. This approach has been fundamental in helping Northampton develop a steady and effective application of their Character Programme. 

What impact has character education had at Northampton Academy?

Chris explains that several years ago, the school was missing a community feel that is essential in a school. Not only did he witness a lack of respect, tolerance, and trust, but there was an ingrained lack of student ambition; the students could not see a place for themselves in the wider world, outside of their local area. The management team of the school knew that the students – and the staff – were craving a Character Programme that would develop discernible virtues, build the community again, and encourage a broader view of their world.

When Chris and Carlington look at the development of the school’s culture over the last three years, it makes the hard work worthwhile. They have seen a direct link between the school’s Character Programme and the development of respectful interactions within the school, with others in their community, and for their environment. They both believe character education has the power to transform any school community, it is the foundation of education, and is at the heart of everything that they do.

“Whilst we must not underestimate the importance of the academic qualifications that our students need for the next steps in their lives, in order to truly flourish they must have a set of virtues that will allow them to make difficult decisions, in a balanced way, when challenging situations inevitably arise.” Chris Clyne The impact Chris and Carlington have had at Northampton Academy over the past three years shows that it is the ‘why’ which is the most important part when implementing a Character Programme at a school, all the key stakeholders must be clear and aligned on the rationale for its importance. They have observed that when character education is delivered properly it can transform young people’s lives by providing them with an internal compass that will guide them through the challenges that life has in store.  As educators, they believe they have a duty to ensure that they develop the next generation of productive and well-rounded members of the community.

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