Ethos & Culture
Many organisations express a vision of what they want to be. This page is about who we are as a school and why.
The history of human existence is a story of change. Whilst the ‘survival of the fittest’ mantra of evolutionary change might imply constant ‘progress’, it is actually about survival, and cultural change is not always a biologically sensitive process. In short, some of the technological changes our society has engineered have created new ‘norms’ which are extremely difficult for young people to accommodate. This is not a new story, but the pace of technical change has accelerated through the ‘information revolution’, creating social environments for young people radically different from those of their parents.
We are acutely aware of these issues as a school, at risk of diverting valuable learning resources to dealing with social media conflicts which have happened outside school. We have therefore taken mobile phone use out of the school equation. Students are allowed to bring them in but they must be switched off, unless with the express permission of a staff member. We are already seeing significant reductions in the social media fallout we are managing, and much more positive and constructive dialogue and relationships between students in school. An ongoing developmental priority for us will be to give students more interesting things to talk about.
England’s educational climate has also changed significantly over the last twenty-five years. League tables have increased pressure in schools, with the qualifications framework changing significantly. Following a long period of ongoing assessment through coursework and modular exams, both GCSE and Advanced Level exams are now linear. Relentless focus on targets and grades has also created new stresses for secondary school students. We have seen unprecedented increases in stress-related illness and mental health referrals, particularly in relation to academic performance through tests and exams. Whatever we are doing as a country, it is not helping our young people to become resilient and robust in their schooling.
We are shifting our focus from targets and onto learning. Growth Mindset Theory proposes that using academic performance as affirmation of personal worth leads to Fixed Mindset. Students praised for their cleverness will avoid challenge to protect this perception. Those praised for hard work will relish challenges and view difficult tasks as an opportunity to learn.
Our ethos then is to value the qualities which build relationships and diffuse conflict; humility, compassion and consideration for others. We encourage hard work, so that students develop the courage to take on challenge, building resilience and flexibility in meeting their future head on. We are building a learning community which values difference and diversity and understands all of the richness and complexity of human existence.