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Author: Bridget Knight, CEO: Values-based Education International


Values-based Education is truly transformational! Schools of all kinds, nationally and internationally, find it provides an infallible structure for a positive ethos that impacts on the whole school community, significantly enhancing the curriculum and pupil outcomes.


So what is Values-Based Education?


 Values Education provides a framework for enabling pupils to become thinking, self-responsible and caring citizens. Its strength is that it offers a practical way to bring about real and sustainable whole school change that improves standards and well-being. It is a collaborative and co-operative approach that encourages self-responsibility and positive relationships. There is in addition a growing body of evidence showing the positive impact on family and community.


Values-based Education therefore offers an investment in individual and societal improvement through attendance to a moral and ethical framework. It seeks to redress the effects of disadvantage by providing individuals with skills for life and learning, closing the disadvantage gap and improving standards in this country.


Why become a Values-Based School?


Our children and young people want to be and become vibrant and successful, at one with themselves and their world. To achieve this they must acquire the myriad skills that will enable them to face and overcome the challenges they will meet.


As educators we have the privilege and opportunity to place before our pupils rich possibilities, and to furnish them with a lifetime's gift of intellectual, moral, emotional and spiritual intelligences. In our experience, the most powerful way we can achieve this is by establishing and maintaining a school ethos and culture that prizes:


• The centrality of respectful and compassionate relationships.

• The development of shared values and associated language.

• The facilitation of philosophical dialogue and debate.

• The conscious and explicit modelling of positive behaviour and cognitive traits.

• The emphasis on personal endeavour and spiritual reflection.

• The attention to the broad and balanced values based curriculum and personalised learning.

• The celebration of the dignity and worth of each individual.


The testimony from pupils, parents, teachers and educational professionals confirms the benefits of this approach for all children, regardless of age, ability, background, culture or need. This is a deeply practical route to a more socially inclusive, motivating and rewarding school experience, enabling learners to flourish and become the engaged and motivated citizens of the world that they aspire to be.


How does it work?


Values-based Education creates aspirational thinkers, reflective learners and responsible participators through:


• A strong leadership dynamic modelling appropriate behaviour and empowering others.


• Shaping a values-led curriculum which supports successful teaching and learning.


• Engaging an inner curriculum, improving well being and behaviour


• Infusing all aspects of education, elevating the lives of children and young people.


How to Apply Values-Based Education in your School


Values-based Education has been found to have a profound impact on the pupils and staff in a broad spectrum of schools in wide-ranging socio-economic contexts. It has been integral to turning around failing schools as well as to enhancing the practice in the highest performing schools. It is relevant to children of all ages, ability, social class, culture and religion.


In every school it gives children a lifetime’s gift, helping them to take responsibility for their attitudes and behaviour. Learners develop a wisdom and maturity of thinking, a refined sensitivity and sense of empathy. This in turn enables them to be successful learners and good citizens.


Process Values Education offers a framework for enabling pupils to become thinking, confident, self-responsible and caring citizens through the consideration of positive core values and their implications for our lives.


• Instructional leadership: through demonstration, dialogue and high expectations, building cohesive teams through shared values and consistent practice. Focus on a core value, such as respect, peace, or unity is chosen for each month and is the focus for assemblies and the school’s work. This builds an ethical vocabulary on which learners can base their attitudes and behaviour. This helps learners build the capacity for self-reflection.


• Role modelling: staff actively model the behaviours and language associated with the values so that pupils learn why values matter- and see them as something that they too can adopt.


• Discussion: reasoned discussion is integral to this process, developing pupils’ thinking, speaking, listening and debating skills.


• Reflection: learners are taught how to be comfortable with stillness and silence, and to use this disposition to become reflective thinkers. The effects are seen in terms of pupils’ behaviour and the improved quality of their thinking.


Looking to develop Values-Based Education in your School?


If you want to begin your journey towards becoming a values-based school that you set aside a training day when all teaching and non-teaching staff can attend and be an active part of this process of transformational cultural change.


VbE will fall at the first hurdle if you make up a list of values and tell the school community that these are our values! Involvement and ownership is key to the success of VbE.


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Values-based Education

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