When introducing October’s character value in assembly, we will look carefully at the word RESPONSIBILITY and consider its two roots: RESPONSE and ABILITY. In essence, an aspect of responsibility is about having the ability to choose the responses we make in any situation. In this way, whilst we all know that we may need, and indeed expect, the help and support of others to achieve our goals, we equally understand that we can choose our actions responsibly, to create the outcomes which we want, whether that be in the classroom, the sports field or within friendships.
The nature of relationships amongst young people has been a topic extensively covered in the press this year, with a special OFSTED enquiry commissioned in the wake of allegations made via the Everyone’s Invited site. From our youngest to oldest pupils, we teach them to put kindness at the heart of their responsible choices made in relationships. Being kind isn’t always the easy choice – self-interest can lead to a desire to put others down. However, kindness is always the right choice and generally one finds that kindness begets kindness. Friendships, and, for older pupils, relationships will be stronger, healthier and longer lasting if built on kindness.
There are many examples of the power of kindness to draw upon at an age appropriate level: From Winnie the Pooh – a little too fond of honey but the sort of friend who never lets Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger and the gang down – to Jean Valjean who, in Les Misérables, emerges from his time in prison and blossoms into an almost impossibly good and generous man, there is a kind role model for everyone.
As well as promoting kind and responsible relationships, we also encourage permission seeking and giving in play, building the language, understanding and character which, in time, informs consent education. In the Pre-Prep playground, children know how to tell one another, ‘Stop, I don’t like that’; in the Prep, children are celebrated for their ability to stand up for what is right in the playground whilst nonetheless approaching their play with kindness and respect; whilst our sixth formers are helping to devise the PSHEE schemes of work to ensure that younger pupils in the Senior School are best equipped to navigate social relationships responsibly.
Our school community is made up of wonderful, brilliant, interesting people, individuals who deserve to form friendships and relationships that are underpinned with kindness and respect. During October, we will actively explore what this means and how this is achieved with our pupils, encouraging them to believe that they should give and settle for nothing less.