10 steps towards embedding quality values education

Rosemary Dewan

Rosemary Dewan is the CEO of the Human Values Foundation which promotes the importance of teaching human values in schools. Since 1995 it has been providing practical, cross-curricular programmes for personal development and behaviour management, integrating SMSC, PSHE education, Citizenship, PLTS and SEAL.

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Website: www.humanvaluesfoundation.com Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The London 2012 Games were a morale booster as influences from the powerful, universal Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect spread and brought out so much goodness in so many people – from all walks of life and from all age groups.

The performances of all those involved in the London 2012 festival of sport – Olympians themselves, the organisers, all those who designed the superb and imaginative venues, those who took part in the impressive and enjoyable ceremonies, the Games Makers and even spectators - set many hearts and minds alight by their examples. They demonstrated just what can be achieved when talents and abilities – not only sporting - are nurtured and allowed to blossom to their full extent. They made abundantly clear what can happen when we have a purpose, live by and share what we treasure and value.

The triumphal journey of each competitor had started with a vision, which he or she had gradually turned into a reality, driven by a hunger to achieve. Over time they had progressively honed their skills, all the while drawing on and further developing qualities of determination, resilience, creativity, hard graft, discipline and sustained focus. Their varying degrees of success on the day made many realise that, whatever anyone’s abilities, with passion, resolve, a willingness to learn from experiences and effective teamwork, outcomes can be surprising and exhilarating - not only for individuals in the limelight but also for all those behind the scenes and spectators.

One major aim of the London 2012 Games was to inspire a generation. They are on their way to being a catalyst for sustainable, positive changes in connection with sport - but there is plenty of scope to broaden the legacy and we will all be the richer for that.

Motivation matters

Current and future generations have been given powerful insights into what can be accomplished with the right attitudes, mindsets and values. Every subject making up a school curriculum can be considered part of the composite springboard that will enable individuals to fully realise their potential. By creatively nourishing abilities and consciously embracing the Olympic motto of Citius, Altius, Fortius, wherever their talents lie, all young people can be motivated to strive to:

  • progress faster – with goals, enthusiasm and drive
  • aim higher – in their chosen field, their place in society, and
  • feel stronger – buoyed up and supported by well-considered values.

Understanding the impacts of chosen values

Systematically increasing an understanding of values and practising their application in a safe environment helps children and young people realise the degree to which chosen values directly impact their thinking, how they feel and how they behave. It becomes clearer to them that with a bedrock of carefully considered values they can consistently make good choices, thrive and become ‘the best that they can be’.

10 steps towards embedding quality values education

(1) Policy – Consider the rational for values education being an explicit and integrated curriculum concept that informs all teaching and learning and be clear about the culture and kinds of values you want to promote.

(2) Whole-school approach – Create an inclusive ethos so that the whole school community is engaged in developing, implementing and sustaining the initiative for values to guide all the school’s work.

(3) Key facilitators – Identify the primary facilitators, whose commitment and enthusiasm will create the impetus to ensure values education is a central principle underpinning every aspect of the curriculum and who can help drive up standards with positive role modelling, appropriate staff training and advancing best practices.

(4) Young people’s needs – Focus on the needs of the children and young people in your school, bearing in mind how they best learn and how sound reference points and strength of character will empower them and enable them to successfully build and shape their own futures.

(5) Meeting needs – Match the teaching methods, mentoring and content of the curriculum to the identified needs of the children and young people and the aim of developing the whole person.

(6) Which skills? – Consider the skillset it would be appropriate for pupils to acquire, including reflective thinking about values, so that ultimately they can make positive transitions into adulthood.

(7) Skill development – Identify the spectrum of learning activities and practices that will support the process of becoming increasingly ‘fluent in values’ and adept at applying the knowledge gained to good effect in different contexts and in all areas of day-to-day living.

(8) Benefits – Identify the benefits pupils are likely to accrue in the short term and the longer term because their values education experience is progressive, real-life and deeply personal.

(9) Community involvement – To create a sustainable route map for quality education, engage in the process and share development with the whole school community, parents, carers and other stakeholders.

(10) Programme plan – Ensure your system is well planned, monitored and evaluated in order to keep the process alive and constantly under review.

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