This month’s Character Educator in Focus is Carole Jones, an experienced Headteacher who passionately leads Yeading Junior School in Hayes. Carole enjoys working with the wider community and has developed partnerships which have enhanced opportunities for the school. She has modelled the development of leadership amongst the children and viewed character through the lens of social action actively establishing social action projects with others. Carole is a co-contributor to a book about character development within her school, alongside other members of the school community and a neighbouring university. Yeading Junior School were also recently awarded the Association for Character Education Kitemark+.
In this blog, Carole explains how the school focusses on the development of the whole child academically, emotionally and socially.
Why character education at Yeading Junior School?
A focus on Community, parents and partnerships has always been integral to the work of Yeading Junior School. Working in this way has enabled empowered children to become responsible, knowledgeable young citizens who are confident learners with a well-developed skills set that enables them to influence others for the betterment of themselves and society. The school places importance on the enhancement of pupil voice enabling children to affect positive change both locally and globally. With this in mind it has been of great importance for Character Education to be at the heart of the school’s work. The logical way forward for me as a leader was to become a role model on the journey of embedding Character Education by both inspiring and supporting others whilst embedding Character Education in the school’s vision and ethos. As the leader I felt that I was in a good position to coach and advise a whole team in order to shape and change the way they all worked. I also committed to finding ways of ensuring staff had a well-developed understanding of Character Education, a unified approach, opportunities to reflect together and deepen their knowledge and skills through quality research and professional development.
The school worked hard over time on community cohesion projects and activities as well as projects relating to the emotional well-being of children. Many of these were captured in published case studies to be used with others. As a reflective school that embraces local and national initiatives, shaping them for benefit of the school and making them appropriate for our needs, I recognised that these had made a significant impact on our learners who had become more confident and also demonstrated greater awareness of their place within their local and wider community. I was extremely interested to gain further insight into Character Education when it first came on the horizon. Having attended various forums it became clear that this was a natural direction for the school. It was apparent that this would need to be a whole school approach involving all stakeholders, Governors, all staff, children and parents and it could build upon much of the school’s previous work. However I felt that it was imperative that staff embarked on some facilitated research and learning together. We have also been impacted positively by the work and resources from the Jubilee Centre.
Personal commitment to character education
I have always been interested in developing and nurturing children’s personal skills alongside enhancing their academic knowledge and skills. My thinking has been influenced by my family upbringing, recognising volunteering in action alongside being given opportunities to grow personally as a teacher by those who have nurtured and supported me throughout my journey in teaching and leading but most of all seeing and understanding the ongoing impact on individual children, groups of children and a whole school staff and children working in this way. The imperative has always been to enable children to grow as empowered young people who are confident in influencing others for the good and also knowing how to affect positive change in themselves and others whilst understanding the importance of service and gratitude. This too has played a part in my ongoing personal development. Working with the wider community has enabled me to reflect and has contributed to my own personal growth. I have continued to be spurred on by the visible and tangible changes in school, the commitment of the staff and also by the keenness of the children to share the school’s virtues with their families as well as parents themselves using them as an integral part of their daily vocabulary and life.