Headmaster's Blog 5: The Curriculum for the Soul (Part 3 of 3)

I want Cransley to be a community where individuals develop and maintain their own sense of value and self-esteem while at the same time maintaining that of others… somewhere that children can nurture relationships, seek excellence and venture beyond.

By teaching our pupils how to be well and how to be emotionally literate, they will be more likely to engage and start to use strategies to support their own happiness and wellbeing.

If this is successful, our children will begin to venture into new learning in class with assurance and security, tackle problems with resilience, face difficult academic and pastoral situations, and find both personal success and subsequent motivation.

The earlier this is established, the more secure the academic success.

One recent comment to me argued that investing in an excellent emotionally literate independent school is more vital at primary level than for Secondary school. By eleven, a child’s personality, values and emotional literacy are already fairly established…

So, enough theory! What do we do about it?

The quality of pupils’ personal development at Cransley is already regarded as being excellent. Our inspections say so, and I hope our parents will reiterate that message. You may wish to comment below!

However, we do not stand still in these matters, and strive to provide the very best to address wellbeing and release academic potential amongst our pupils.

Our class sizes mean that pupil/teacher relationships are close, constructive and caring.

Strengths are celebrated and weaknesses addressed in supportive and structured ways. When we declare that ‘Every Individual Matters’, we include all pupils, all parents, all visitors and, of course, all school staff.

We have recently introduced a monitoring and tracking system evaluating the emotional literacy of every child in the school: specifically, their self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills, with a complex and thorough analysis for the creation of pathways to help children develop emotionally, if difficulties are identified.

It is a system in which I have enormous faith and belief, although one which is not easy to put into practice.

Such pathways may include 1:1 sessions combined with small group discussions on the specific difficulties being encountered. If matters continue to extend beyond our capacity as educators, we are fortunate to have our School Counsellor, Nathalie, to speak to our pupils on a 1:1 basis.

Beyond this, we support parents in finding the correct mental health professional to address our pupils’ needs.

Our children not only have PSHE (Personal Social Health Education) lessons timetabled with a thorough and engaging scheme of work, but also dedicated improvement and reflection time (DIRT!) each week, with the usual though-provoking assemblies. Staff see opportunities for social, moral, spiritual and cultural development and discussion in all areas of the curriculum. Complementing this, we give our children opportunities to develop these qualities further, for example on residentials, team-building activities, cultural experiences, places of worship or meeting people in whom they can find aspiration and inspiration.

Last year in the Junior school, we introduced a new RS scheme of work from the excellent Manchester Diocese, encouraging individual morality and personal spirituality, complementing the wonderful teaching of Humanities in the Senior School.  We will be seeking to bring an early discrete philosophy and ethics lesson also in the very near future.

In regard to the behaviour of pupils - something which is already regarded as excellent - our approach enables those who have been harmed by inappropriate behaviour, however rare, to convey the impact of the harm to those responsible, and for those responsible to acknowledge this and take steps to put it right - a system known as ‘Restorative practice’. It works.

I wish for our provision to be the very best possible expected from a school.

Therefore at the end of a long and arduous blog, I encourage you to consider the points that I have so clumsily made, and maybe also please mull over the first question of the new ISI inspectorate to be asked of our pupils:

“How well do you understand yourself?”

It is by far, the most difficult programme of study for any school - the ‘Curriculum for the Soul’.

Richard

Headmaster

 

I should take the opportunity to particularly thank the staff and parents of Cransley who have given their response to the matter of Emotional Literacy. I also wish to thank Mrs G Pearson, our pastoral governor, for supporting the scheme from the onset, and thank a wonderful dedicated pair of teaching assistants, Mrs K Jackson and Mrs C Riddell, who are charged with putting the system into practice in both Junior and Senior Schools, and have taken time to research, study and enhance the system for the benefit of our children.

Anybody who has encountered and benefitted from the tireless dedication and commitment from Mrs H Ward, our pastoral coordinator, will know how much individuals will put their heart and soul on the line for the sake of our pupils. If you see her, give her a cuddle! She will hate it and love it in equal measure!