Case Study: Character Caught
Connor Downs Academy
"Connor Downs is an inspirational school where children are cared for and nurtured by a team of highly trained and supportive adults. It is a school that enables children to develop within an environment that is sensorily rich, and carefully planned to support emotional well-being." TISUK Senior Consultant
Connor Downs Academy fosters positive emotional regulation to enable inclusive, positive learning outcomes. This is reinforced through the academy motto – ‘Open space, open hearts, open minds’.
The school ensures children’s progression encapsulates an understanding and appreciation of the concept of ‘self-worth’, both on an individual, collective and wider community level.
The direct, and indirect, teaching of PSHE enables children to become healthy, independent and responsible members of society, providing its pupils with opportunities to learn about their rights and responsibilities as global citizens and appreciate what it means to be a member of a diverse society.
An established culture of warmth and social engagement between staff and pupils is key and ensures children feel psychologically safe and secure to express their opinions in class discussions, themed assemblies and through roles of responsibility, e.g. school council members, sports leaders and wellbeing champions. Staff modelling effectively steers children to consider their words and actions in everything they do. Planned enrichment activities beyond the classroom broaden children’s understanding of the world around them. Outdoor learning, regular school trips and residential camps not only support the academic objectives of the class-based topic, but also expose children to a range of people, places, cultures and beliefs.
Bude Primary Academy - Infants
Both Behaviour and Personal Development was rated 'Good' in the school's recent Ofsted (September 2022). On arrival, it was clear to inspectors that, even on a Reception Class pupil's first full day of starting school, the children were content, relaxed, engaged and calm in their classrooms, ready for new opportunities.
“Children in the Reception Year get off to a strong start. They settle quickly into routines, as a result of a well-thought-out transition programme.” Ofsted, September 2022
Visitors often remark on calm, polite and well-behaved children both in school and on trips. This wasn’t always the case at Bude Infants but there are two main reasons for this dramatic improvement:
- Children respect adults because they know staff know them, understand them and most of all care for them
- Clear, concise and consistent school rules use infant-friendly vocabulary and the 'be safe, be kind, be ready' rules are introduced on day 1
Children know that in school there are clear boundaries, fair consequences and restorative conversations for negative behaviour.
Children also know that school is a safe place to make mistakes and once something has happened, the slate is wiped clean and they are still liked. Good relationships are based on trust. The Head of School knows every child and is involved daily, both managing boundaries and consequences and celebrating positive behaviour. They are always visible, welcoming children and their families at the beginning and end of each day at the gate.
Carefully selected key texts help illustrate and demonstrate many aspects of personal development, alongside role play in class. The text “Have you filled a bucket today?” has given the whole school a shared language which has helped children to understand and articulate their own feelings and emotions, as well as those of others. Children are awarded “Bucket Filler” certificates in Celebration Assembly for doing kind and helpful things around school. Children can also award each other.
“Pupils behave well. Classrooms are calm. Pupils say that bullying rarely happens. Staff use a consistent approach to help pupils understand and improve their behaviour. This starts as soon as children join Reception. Pupils view the staff team as kind and caring. They know that they can share any worries with them. This helps pupils to feel safe. Pupils say that the ‘above and beyond’ points help them to understand that only their best effort is good enough.” Ofsted, September 2022
Children are encouraged to play a pro-active role in the school and to support behaviour with duties such as corridor monitors, playground helpers, school councillors and buddies.
“Leaders encourage pupils to take responsibility for promoting positive behaviour. Pupils act as behaviour monitors. They confidently advise other pupils how they should conduct themselves around the school building.” Ofsted, September 2022
A recent focus on Character Education has encouraged staff to adapt the school's mission statement to reflect the values they believe are paramount:
Confidence, resilience, motivation, independence, teamwork, curiosity
The school is currently creating stories with animals who demonstrate these value traits, so that they are embedded in an infant-friendly way, developing alongside a shared language with specific vocabulary - 'respect', 'honesty', 'trust' and 'integrity'. Values will be regularly illustrated through assemblies with carefully chosen texts from the personal development library.