Value-Led Leadership

Values can offer a meaningful reference point for the character, culture and ethos of a school. Values can drive improvement, providing a guide to the decisions made at a strategic level. Values can also act as an affirming strength to for school leaders, governors, staff, children and the wider community.

I have already written a blog on irresistible learning that outlines our journey in creating a mission statement for Warden House Primary School.  Our school mission statement is to 'Make learning irresistible by teaching amazing lessons that empower children to make stunning progress.'  This mission statement is deliberately void of Ofsted or 'edu-speak' terminology to embed the principle that school improvement depends on inspiring young minds.

Lord Nash stated in the DFE publication on Guidance on promoting British values in schools states:

"We want every school to promote the basic British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance for those of different faiths and beliefs."

"This ensures young people understand the importance of respect and leave school fully prepared for life in modern Britain."

Warden House has six key values.  These were not formulated in direct response to the drive by Lord Nash on promoting British Values but from a need to affirm a shared set of values that could be applied across our school community. We devised these through consultation with staff, governors and children.  In order to define our school values, we asked our staff body to describe the qualities of their 'perfect child'.  This discussion was very interesting as we explored the qualities of a hypothetical perfect child.  Many revisions took place during the process and we settled on six key values we felt were important. Here they are:

One of our fantastic teachers at Warden House is a talented artist and she designed our Vision Wheel as an image that could be a reference point to our values.  We produced posters of the vision wheel, made stickers, commissioned rugs, flags and included the image on school certificates.  Marketing this vision to our children, staff, parents, governors and visitors was key as the values needed to be palpable in the decisions we made, the assemblies we delivered, our irresistible curriculum and the conversations we had with one another.

Our assembly themes each term focus on the six vision words, starting with 'Determined' as we think ahead of what we want to achieve over the coming weeks, model ourselves on inspirational people who have shown real determination to succeed.  We end each term focussing on our value of 'Success' as we make a deliberate space to reflect on the achievements and celebrate success.  The celebration also includes staff as we share share a termly review of success with staff in our Short Term Plan Impact Statement, culminating in a full review of the year for staff and governors at the end of the summer term.

Embedding our values in assembly was an easy step.  Linking stories and ideas to the values became second nature to the assembly planning process.  Embedding values in our curriculum plans took more time and deeper thought.We wanted to ensure our values drove our children's learning and was not simply seen as a 'bolt on' to our curriculum. By talking about the school values and keeping them in the fore of the children and staff's mind helps build the six value words into our natural discourse across the school.  After five years of embedding our six values across our curriculum, within our strategic planning and throughout our school community; we now find the values are upheld and proudly upheld by our entire school community.

Our values sit firmly in our topic plans as we ask our teachers to reflect on the core values they will develop through each topic. Here is a an example of our Topic plans and can be found on the Warden House Website here.  When you visit a classroom at Warden House, the children use the value words in their everyday language.  Value words are used in celebration certificates awarded during our Friday celebration assembly.  Staff will use the value words when marking children's work.  In short, the values permeate through all our work across the school and as a result of this, each value feels owned by all.

So if you haven't already, I urge you to give values a place in your school. Start with an open discussion with your school community on the values that are important to you and consider how values-led leadership  and a values-led curriculum can develop a deep purpose to teaching and learning in your school.

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