Virtues Curriculum

Why this is leading practice

At Ark Boulton we firmly believe and celebrate the importance of shared identity, rooted in the ethos of our virtues. This begins at a whole academy level but permeates down into year groups, form groups and individuals. We believe that individuals who share common virtues are resilient, compassionate, act in service to each other, their local and the global community. 
This is evident each morning as our students and adults loudly and positively affirm their commitment to the academy’s virtues and mission. It continues through form time and assemblies where the academy’s virtues are demonstrated and celebrated. Staff make use of the language of virtues when administering the academy’s behaviour policy and routines for learning. 

Virtues lessons are planned according to a Virtues rubric, a learning journey which specifies the objectives, outcomes and content that students will explore, learn and master. Students explicitly demonstrate their understanding and impact of virtues through their interactions with each other, with adults and with visitors to the academy. We believe the Virtues Curriculum; a tailored values-led, character development programme is leading practice, and has led to highly improved outcomes in behaviour, climate for learning, attendance and academic outcomes or us at Ark Boulton Academy. 

Impact to date

There are many points of impact to date.

The introduction of the Virtues Curriculum has had an impact on student attendance (91.9% in 2015-16 and currently 97.6%), which is the highest out of a network of 19 schools, as well as a reduction in behavioural incidents. Further pastoral work supports vulnerable students in relation to gang culture and knife crime.

As a result of the work on virtues, staff feel that they have a closer relationship with the students. Staff are committed to this aspect of school life and through transferable skills are seeing the difference in students within their own curriculum areas. One teacher stated that there had been ‘an immense change’ in students since the introduction of this curriculum.

The virtue exposition speeches demonstrate that students are passionate about exploring this aspect of their education. In conversation, students were able to talk with conviction and knowledge about issues. They were able to talk about the impact that the Virtues Curriculum is having not only on themselves but how they were able to have an impact on others because of their newly developed knowledge and confidence; from ‘making someone else smile’ to knowing how to react when someone has been a victim of knife crime. Students commented that they feel safe in school, are able to talk about and cope more ably with their feelings and were being supported to live in accordance with these characteristics. Students feel equipped to become ‘great human beings’.

Wider curriculum activities such as the ‘Rights and Responsibilities Days’ enable students to study virtues in more detail and apply them to real life situations. This applied learning was welcomed by students and staff alike.

As twice winners of the national Envision Award, students and staff believe it is the virtue lessons that have prepared students in order to support their public speaking to be able to speak with conviction and passion at such events. Through this work students are able to raise both awareness and funding of current initiatives such as ‘Street Doctors’.

There are a small but growing number of parents becoming interested and involved in this aspect of the academy’s life. Parental comments demonstrate that they are in support of the Virtues Curriculum and can see a difference in the change it is making to their children.

Rationale / Start Point

At Ark Boulton Academy we believe that preparing students for life in modern Britain includes providing opportunities for students to develop morally, socially, spiritually and culturally. These themes run throughout the formal curriculum; students learn about themselves, others, the local and global society in which they live and about democracy, tolerance, diversity and the rule of law.
Personal, social and health education is also addressed specifically through regular whole day student conferences on ‘Rights and Responsibilities’. During which students explore themes relating directly to their personal emotional, mental and physical health and wellbeing as well as positive relationships and how to keep themselves and others safe.
To enable the spiritual and moral development of students the academy’s values are predicated on ten virtues which we seek to make explicit and relate to day to day life in the academy and the wider world.
At Ark Boulton Academy we passionately believe that the development of character is as important as academic development, this is evident in the fact that the Academy dedicates 30 minutes of curriculum time to the explicit teaching of values and self-responsibility through our ‘Virtue Curriculum’. Teachers at Ark Boulton are regarded as teachers of ‘Virtue’ first and foremost and subject specialists secondly. To support this each week there is specific, high quality training to ensure that staff are confident, competent and credible in this role. 
In order to complement this approach each week there is a specific virtue theme and related ‘key question’. During assembly and form time students reflect on the impact of these virtues on their own lives, their community and wider world. Students demonstrate their understanding of these themes and issues through group discussion, personal reflection, written reflections and by composing expositions.
The academy’s approach to behaviour and classroom management is rooted firmly in the Virtues which collectively we all value. The academy’s code of conduct makes use of these virtues explicitly and measurably. r 

Key Strategies

The Virtues Curriculum is a thread running throughout all aspects of school life, from the morning line up, lessons, monitoring and, assessment through to exposition speeches. The school day has been created around this focus, which gives integrity and gravitas to this aspect of the school curriculum. The virtues ethos is apparent throughout the major aspects of academy life, which is key to its success. The academy has also employed key impact measures to judge its success: from learning walks to students’ exposition speeches. Achievement Leaders are key to the monitoring and assessment of this aspect of the curriculum. Heads of Faculty are involved as from tutors, which adds to the significance of this work. Although the Director of Virtues and the Assistant Principal drive the leadership of this strategy it is clear that all staff and students are working as a team in addressing this aspect of the school curriculum.

Training of staff plays a crucial part in enabling the delivery of the Virtues Curriculum. From termly updates through to weekly training sessions enabling the delivery of a manageable and sustainable curriculum. Staff are trained in academic subject knowledge, discussions take place around the difficulties involved in issues such as self-esteem and forced marriage. Correct vocabulary and lesson scripts ensure that staff are well supported and prepared to deliver.

Sustainability and Further Development

The academy already plans to work in conjunction with the Jubilee Centre to support the development of CPD resources for staff training. This will enable staff to be even more prepared to respond to ethical and moral dimensions of the curriculum.

The academy is now in a place where they need to address strategies to support their students beyond school. There are plans in place to support parents with strategies such as vocabulary and language in order to support their children outside of school. This will ensure consistency of approach both inside and outside school, further serving to support students’ development.

Lead Establishment

Name
Ark Boulton Academy
Address
Golden Hillock Road
Birmingham
West Midlands
B11 2QG
Uk
Telephone
0121 773 8156
Email
info@arkboulton.org
Headteacher / Manager
Mrs Herminder Channa
Phase of Education
Secondary
Type and Status of Provider
Academy
Awards and Initiatives
Quality Mark award for Values-based Education

Published: 28 April 2019
Expires: 28 April 2022

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