Character Education

Subject Leader: Mrs Younger

Curriculum Champions: Betsy, Eadie, Lily, Alfie, Ariana, Riley, Polly & Isla

What is it like to study Character Education at Witham St Hughs Academy?

At Witham St Hughs Academy, we put great emphasis on the importance of preparing pupils for life as young people after Witham St Hughs Academy, and we truly believe that success is not solely measured by academic achievement. Our Character Education curriculum has been carefully designed to include all elements of PSHE, British Values, SMSC and philosophy with a clear understanding that, “We need knowledge to live in a complex world, but we do not live by knowledge, we live by beliefs and values.”  At Witham St Hughs Academy, children’s wellbeing, happiness and safety are our first priority, and our Character Education curriculum is the key vehicle through which we share this with children. This is an important, integral component of the whole curriculum; it is central to our approach and at the core of our ethos. We believe that our Character Education teaching should equip pupils with knowledge beyond their own experience and, in a local area often lacking in diversity, offer experiences that will allow pupils to make informed decisions about their health, wellbeing and relationships. This curriculum is rooted in both the National Curriculum guidance released in preparation for mandatory teaching of Relationships and Sex Education from 2020 as well as information published by the PSHE Association. 

We have a strong belief that all pupils should have equal access to powerful knowledge because “it is this knowledge that provides the best understanding of the world that we live in and helps us go beyond our individual experiences.” (Young 2013). This quote encompasses the purpose of our Character Education curriculum in order to fully prepare pupils for life after Witham St Hughs Academy as well as providing them with the opportunities and the platform they need to explore, develop and build upon their own values and beliefs.  

How is Character Education taught and planned?

Explicit Character Education lessons are taught in every year group weekly. These lessons are taken from the Character Education medium term plans which have been carefully and coherently designed using objectives taken from the PSHE association programme of study which also incorporate the statutory guidance which is compulsory from September 2020. This curriculum is divided up to cover the following areas of relationships and health education:  

  • Friendships and respecting self/others. 
  • Healthy Lifestyles (Physical wellbeing) 
  • Mental Health and wellbeing 
  • Families and close positive relationships 
  • Safe relationships/Managing hurtful behaviour 
  • Keeping safe 

The lessons are then planned and sequenced to be taught using a range of approaches including a philosophy ‘enquiry’ based approach. British values are a central part of our Academy vision of preparing pupils to be active citizens in the wider world. One British Value each half term is used as an overarching focus for Character Education lessons to be revisited weekly in lessons and in assemblies across the term.  

Character Education is not solely taught through explicit lessons. All elements of the school day contribute to the building of our pupils’ character. This will be seen and taught during many elements of the school day such as playtimes, lessons, conflict resolution, assemblies, lunchtimes, morning work and trips.

What about experiences?

Visitors, experience days, trips, theatre shows and assemblies are woven into the curriculum for pupils to explore and embed skills and knowledge in a range of ways.  

Children and parents also have the opportunity to take part in workshops and drop in sessions throughout the year with ‘Healthy Minds’ to explore a range of strategies to support positive mental wellbeing.

Lincolnshire County Council also deliver workshops across the Academy around the theme of staying safe. These include road safety workshops, healthy relationships and substance misuse.

Where can I see Character Education around school?

The impact of our Character Education curriculum will be seen and heard in all that the children say and do. Pupils’ behaviour and conduct will be noticeably exemplary. Pupils will demonstrate, by their actions, a deep understanding of the wide range of personal development learning that they are encountering. Pupils will play a highly positive role in creating a school environment in which commonalities are identified and celebrated, difference is valued and nurtured, and bullying, harassment and violence are never tolerated.  

The wide range of books available in our school library, and outlined in our reading spine, celebrate and promote the protected characteristics. These books can be seen in classrooms, corridors and in the library.

Work beyond Witham

The Character Education leader has worked with RSHE specialist, Catherine Kirk to refine and reflect on our Character Education curriculum and Catherine has delivered whole staff training about high quality approaches to teaching about the protected characteristics.

A range of visitors, outside agencies, enhanced provision providers and trip co-ordinators, have noted our pupils’ behaviour, maturity, and utmost respect for others.

Ourselves, Growing and Changing

In the Summer term, children will also be taught a module called, ‘Ourselves, growing and changing’. These lesson objectives are coherently planned from Year 1- Year 6 and teach children about elements such as the scientific vocabulary for body parts, puberty, self esteem, menstruation, consent and managing change.

Although Sex Education elements are not statutory at Primary level, the Department For Education RSHE 2019 guidance states:

‘The Department continue to recommend that all primary schools should have a sex education element tailored to the age and physical and emotional maturity of pupils.’

Sex education is taught in years 5 and 6 at Witham St Hughs Academy and parents are informed of when these lessons will take place. Parents are also informed of the content of the lessons and are invited to view materials that their children will be using. Parents have the right to withdraw their child from all, or part of, the sex education provided at the school, except for, those parts included in the National Curriculum.

It is important that all pupils feel safe and able to participate in RSHE lessons. To support the involvement of all pupils, teachers will use a range of teaching strategies and ensure that pupils are aware of the expectations before beginning each session.

As with any topic, pupils will ask questions during RSHE to further their understanding. Due to the sensitive nature of the topic, teachers will employ strategies to ensure that questions are asked and answered in a factual, balanced and age-appropriate way. When pupils can write independently, pupils may be introduced to the ‘question box’, into which they can place their written questions. This allows the teacher the opportunity to group questions into themes and filter any that may need answering on an individual basis or, in some cases, referred to parents. All staff will be mindful of their safeguarding role and will follow the relevant Academy procedures if a question raises concerns of this nature.