Social and emotional education forms a significant part of the ‘invisible ink’ of learning in schools. It is the sort of learning that occurs within a school community, where opportunities to acquire the skills, values and attributes needed for a positive and successful adult life are abundant. Whilst these opportunities are not necessarily lessons which you will see detailed on a Claremont Fan Court timetable, they are also not left to occur by chance; rather, they are embedded within our cultural approach.

Take this month’s focus character quality, Honesty, for example, where fostering a culture of integrity in the classroom can help pupils to value academic honesty whilst also promoting a strong sense of self-belief.

In a world where there is often a feeling that ‘the end justifies the means’, the temptation to bend the rules – ultimately to cheat – to succeed is ever present. Our education system is one where examination grades provide the key to life’s next steps, so how do we instil academic integrity in our young people? Clear articulation about expectations with respect to cheating is part of the solution but the more powerful impact comes from creating a classroom culture that rewards success beyond grades. If grades are the only measure of success, then the temptation to achieve the best grade through any means is higher. In a classroom where courage, effort and endeavour, along with respectful interactions, are consistently recognised, the process of learning becomes a yardstick against which all pupils can succeed. With the pressure taken off grades as the only measure of success, pupils approach their learning with greater academic integrity and sense of the possibility of fulfilment.

In class and during assemblies this month, we will encourage our pupils to consider both historical and topical events through the lens of honesty. Understanding the impact of disrespect and dishonesty, whilst simultaneously celebrating examples of individuals who have stood up for their beliefs and values in ways that have made a difference. Black History Month, celebrated in the UK in October, provides rich examples of people and events to celebrate the principle of standing up honestly for what is right and just. However, just as the organisers of Black History Month are encouraging a month of focussing on everyday actions, achievements and contributions, so we strive to uphold this approach at Claremont.

Our ‘Claremont 100’ initiative, linked to our centenary celebrations, is a challenge to each of our pupils to raise pounds and/or volunteer units of time, to a combined total of one hundred. This commitment to socially responsible actions and giving of time and talent will further nurture integrity and self-efficacy amongst our young people. We hope that, as well as providing the obvious benefits to others, this process will help equip our pupils with belief in themselves and the contributions they can make to their community and the wider world. It might be invisible ink but this cultural approach supports a community where dishonesty makes little sense and integrity becomes a way of life.

Mrs Helen Hutton-Attenborough

Head of Preparatory School