This was set in the context of my personal conviction that a school should be a happy place in which everyone is safe, treated with respect and encouraged to learn; where the whole school strives to exemplify the values of truth, knowledge, courage and harmony as encapsulated by our school crest.
We promote all these values, the latter group explicitly through the weekly presentation of the Crest Trophy, but we felt it useful to have one particular focus. After much discussion, we decided upon “Respect”.
We then spent the first weeks of the new school year with “Respect” as the theme in each class. Students discussed the importance of respect for themselves, for each other and for the environment and how they could demonstrate such respect.
We reviewed our House system; children are now given a “Respect Card” when an adult recognises them demonstrating respect, with these cards adding up to House points.
Respect has also been the theme of multiple assemblies, to the extent we have designated “Respect Assemblies” throughout the year. It has also been taken on by specialist teachers who support in the Primary School in subject areas such as PE, Music, Drama and Art – which provides a consistency of language and focus across all staff.
Respect works well as a theme for a number of reasons. Philosophically, it sits comfortably with both Western and Asian perspectives; in fact, I cannot think of a society that does not value respect.
It is also relevant to all ages and understood (at an age-appropriate level) by all children. For our children, it has become entwined with the notion of kindness.
Thus, various classes have spent time considering the idea of “Random Acts of Kindness”, or “Filling a Bucket” (perhaps you know the book Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud).
Of course, our Secondary School is similarly promoting positive values – the whole school recognised and celebrated World Kindness Day in November, for example.
The philosophy of BISP recognises that a core purpose of formal education is to enable our students to lead “quality lives”.
In that context, it is worth reflecting on research quoted in the World Happiness Report 2015:
“If you wish to predict whether a child will grow into a satisfied adult, the best predictor is not the academic achievement of the child but their emotional health”.
(Helliwell, John F., Richard Layard, and Jeffrey Sachs, eds. 2015. World Happiness Report 2015. New York: Sustainable Development Solutions Network.)
At BISP we don’t consider it to be a choice of one or the other, we strongly believe that both academic achievement and emotional health are equally important and can be complementary.
Our focus on values, as part of our academic framework, makes our school a more pleasant and enjoyable community and should help position our children for a successful future.
The author of this article, Mr Kenneth Page, is Primary Principal at BISP, you can follow him on Twitter: @BISPPrimary