Hints and tips for transformative 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.

Follow @HVF_Values

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

Socrates said, “Education is not the filling of a vessel but the kindling of a flame.” What a pleasure it is watching that flame glow, especially if you have been instrumental in fanning the spark by helping the child or young person to be happy and well motivated.

Experience shows that when teaching is actively underpinned with positive, uplifting values, children become enthused and engaged, resulting in profound improvements in their wellbeing and an extensive range of exhilarating rewards for the individuals, with the benefits rubbing off on their families, schools and communities.

First and foremost – your own values and principles

In our rapidly changing world, from time to time you may find it well worth while stepping back to think about the values and principles that you live by and the consequential messages you are transmitting to all those around you. Children will be scrutinizing your every move - and copying you! Amongst your personal and professional goals, do you aim to be an inspiring role model, continuously fostering an enjoyable learning environment conducive to bringing out the best in your pupils?

A productive habit to encourage is the consideration of values. It promotes self-discovery. Whatever your specialist area, focusing on values and providing relevant, fun-filled exploration of them enhances understanding and opens up stimulating pathways towards participants putting them into practice and achieving exciting differences in their emotional wellbeing, social competencies, health, mindsets and performance. If you think back to influential teachers in your own life, your example can affect all aspects of the personal life of your pupils, throughout their school careers and well beyond – including as parents of the future.

This reflective and forward-looking exercise can result in advancing from a state of AWARENESS about the effects of chosen values – consciously or unconsciously – to a state of PREPAREDNESS to deliver and embed motivational, transformational values.


As with so much achieved in life, vision and preparation are key. A quality, comprehensive values education programme will provide you with the underlying philosophy together with succinct advice and guidance. It will save you time with imaginative and innovative ideas on how to incorporate rewarding values into your school’s ethos and environment and open up rich sources of learning opportunities that draw on the entire breadth of the curriculum.

A whole-school approach knits the community together and engenders the sharing of best practices. Whatever your experience, you can look forward to gaining a more thorough understanding of the empowering process and relish being equipped with plenty of engaging activities, discussion points and practical yet flexible materials so that you can confidently, creatively and effectively contribute to and support learners’ development as you:

  • TEACH life-enriching values
  • EMBED high quality values
  • LIVE by transformative values

When considering the important area of assessments, the words of Benjamin Franklin, an outstanding, highly gifted polymath in the 18th century, are pertinent even today - “Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement and success have no meaning.”

Among the delights, joys and surprises many educationalists find when they proactively pursue values-based teaching are the happy, feel-good factors generated, the improvements in attitudes, behaviour and performance, better teacher/pupil relationships and parents/carers wanting to engage more deeply in their children’s education.

Developing the whole person

Values education is an exploratory process involving coaching children and young people so that they become increasingly aware of and consider the values shaping and impacting their daily lives now and in the future. Implemented thoughtfully, participants blossom and they are exhilarated by their personal growth, recognising and appreciating palpable and productive changes in their:

  • Self-esteem
  • Emotional wellbeing
  • Social skills and competencies
  • Relationships
  • Exploration and management of feelings
  • Understanding of others
  • Performance in all domains of life
  • Aspirations
  • Life chances

Over time, you, parents/carers and others can take pleasure in helping children and young people build up for themselves, a well thought through bedrock of positive values to act as sound reference points for their thinking, feelings, choices and behaviour.

Warm, bright, constant flames

To enable your pupils to grow into bright, constant flames, here are some suggested values you could promote, not necessarily to enable them to be considered ‘cool’ but rather to help them enjoy being warm, friendly human beings, reaching out to and supporting one another as they strive to develop attractive character traits and deliberately radiate qualities such as:

  • Love

  • Helpfulness

  • Trust

  • Sharing

  • Empathy

  • Respect

  • Patience

  • Caring

  • Compassion

  • Kindness

  • Integrity

  • Gratitude

  • Understanding

  • Forgiveness

  • Generosity

  • Unselfishness

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