Character Education at AKS through Round Square (2019-20)
Ms De Miranda, Round Square Representative
We believe that the pillars of the Round Square IDEALS (Internationalism, Democracy, Environmentalism, Adventure, Leadership and Service), with the framework’s focus on development of character and responsibility, form a fundamentally important element of a great education, sitting alongside and supporting academic success. At AKS, our aim is to ensure our students leave school with the skills and dispositions that will enable them to thrive in our challenging world
As the Round Square Representative at AKS, my role is to co-ordinate, inspire and promote our commitment to character education and experiential learning within the school, creating opportunities that enable all students to be able to develop both personally and academically. This all happens under the direction and support of Mrs Marland, Assistant Head of Staff and Student Development. Together, we have been able to provide students with several new opportunities this academic year as well as strengthening the provision we already have in place. Here are a few highlights.
We have increased student involvement in Round Square Projects but unfortunately these opportunities have since been postponed. Two of our students were accepted onto an environmental project taking place in Sainte Luce, Madagascar. They were due to work with the local community which would have involved time conducting research in the forest, helping the ‘Conservation Club’, where the local children learn the importance of conserving the environment and teach basic English to the children in the village.
Significant changes have taken place with regards to the development of a Student Constitution through the Student Council with new members in place that have a real desire to have a voice and want to promote change within the School and the local community. The Student Council has also formed student sub-groups for those particularly interested in Wellbeing as well as a Community Partnership Committee to discuss at student level the action plan going forward. Each leader then represents the voice of the students on the whole school committee.
In June 2020, five Year 8 students were due to attend a European Round Square Conference at St Marys School, Colchester which has had to be postponed and in September 2020, six Year 12 students were due to attend the Round Square International Conference in Australia. Both conferences were themed around Environmentalism. However, this has not stopped us developing a new student Eco-Committee with those who were due to attend these conferences. Their aim is to positively influence ecological behaviours and habits around school (e.g. recycling, energy consumption, use of resources). Also, a new initiative is also being discussed to audit the School's own ethical practices and ensure the integrity of our ecological values.
This academic year, Mrs Marland designed and launched ‘The Discovery Challenge’ to all Year 7 students. This award celebrates how every pupil at our school knows the importance and value of developing their own character to become the very best version of themselves. The Discovery Challenge gives us a way to track how each student is developing as a person through the experiences they have at AKS. It has been specifically designed to complement the curricular and co-curricular opportunities available throughout Year 7. On completion of the challenge, some students have taken on the role of ‘expert’ to encourage, support and help their peers to complete the task. Pupils will be continuing this type of challenge in Year 8 and become mentors to those in Year 7 about to embark on the challenge in September.
Our Pre-A level course has given Year 11 students the opportunity to have their thinking challenged by taking part in the Round Square IDEALS challenge with Leadership being the focus over the past 4 weeks. The big question being, what makes an effective leader in times of adversity? Students then had to complete several activities and reflective exercises independently. This gave students a flavour of what is to come as part of their 6th Form studies; each one of the IDEALS will go 'live' each half term. Completion of all 6 of the IDEALS; International, Democracy, Environmentalism, Adventure, Leadership and Service will result in an official certificate from Round Square.
A review has taken place to develop student Leadership opportunities, procedures, training and reflection across the whole school to ensure transparent, effective, and inclusive leadership. This started with the New Prefect Application Process and the selection of the Student Senior Leadership Team. Opportunities for students in lower years has now become available and more work will continue with this going forward.
After the success of the ‘Bring me Sunshine’ campaign in recent years we decided this year to refocus a little on what the current leadership team wanted to achieve and ensure succession planning was in place to train the next generation of leaders. Whilst we have continued to work alongside Bev Sykes at Just Good Friends the opportunity to hold events in the Summer Term have had to be postponed. However, we have got fully behind helping her members with a pen pal scheme with pupils in Year 7 to 'bring sunshine' with these small acts of compassion. The staff at AKS are also helping Just Good Friends with their Check-In and Chat Volunteering Scheme by phoning individuals in the local community. These calls happen on a regular basis to ensure those who need it, have someone to talk to.
The Round Square Discovery Framework connects the Round Square IDEALS with 12 ‘Discoveries’: teamwork skills, compassion, courage, sense of responsibility, tenacity, self-awareness, appreciation of diversity, inquisitiveness, inventiveness, communication skills, commitment to sustainability and ability to solve problems.
To encourage students to consider these discoveries in greater depth and think about how they apply them in their daily lives, we commence each half term with an assembly focused on one of the discoveries. In the senior school these assemblies are led by different members of staff who share what the discovery means for them and share their experiences of personal development with the students.
This academic year, we have looked at sense of responsibility, compassion, self-awareness and inquisitiveness.