BEHIND THE STUDY DOOR
Our examination is not to know what virtue is, but to become good. Aristotle
I will start with a question for you. Do you believe character is more important than attainment (when assessing a child)? This same question has been put to a large number of participants in recent research conducted by the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues at the University of Birmingham, and the results might surprise you (they certainly surprised me). When asked what they felt was more important, character or attainment, a group of parents and educators responded convincingly with character. What really surprised me was that both groups believed that the other would prioritise attainment over character. I would be very interested to hear your reaction to this research, and whether you would have expected – like me – for the gap to be smaller between them both.
This, and many other pieces of interesting research, was presented to colleagues of mine at a conference hosted by Eton College last week on Character Education. This subject is of great interest to us at St George’s, as we firmly believe that character can be taught and should form a major part of our curriculum (both ‘academic’ and outside the classroom) and wellbeing approach. Indeed, part of the reason for promoting ‘learning outside the classroom’ (outdoor learning, the planned introduction of Forest School, and increased residential opportunities and expeditions) is to focus on ‘character education’.
But what, I hear you ask, exactly is character education? To answer this, I would like to use the example of a school in the UK that is famed for this. Also speaking at the conference was Lisa Kerr, Principal of Gordonstoun School in the Highlands. Catherine and I had the great pleasure of meeting Lisa on Wednesday evening after she spent some time with a group of choristers. Of particular interest to us is Lisa’s background in Music and how she can see the enormous links between music, wellbeing, personal growth and, ultimately, academic success. On this occasion, however, she was able to explain some fascinating research conducted by Simon Beames of Edinburgh University in conjunction with Gordonstoun.
Gordonstoun was founded in the 1930s by Kurt Hahn, a great influencer in the field of outdoor and experimental learning. His work on the ‘Seven Laws of Salem’ and ‘Expeditionary Learning Design Principles’ are the basis on which Gordonstoun is built. It is now a thriving boarding and day school with its own fire brigade (if there is a fire in Moray then it is highly likely that Gordonstoun pupils in the school fire engine will respond), ‘The Spirit of the Moray’, a large yacht in which all pupils spend time, and a focus on the outdoors (The Duke of Edinburgh was founded at the school, which is nestled between the mountains and the sea). In amongst an engaging curriculum, it is true to say that character education is at the heart of Gordonstoun. Not, however, character education, in the sense of cold showers, a brutal regime and ‘character building stuff’. That is, of course, an outdated and simply untrue definition of character education. This is about taking responsibility, giving something a go, promotion of self-discovery, managing triumph and defeat, and being able to collaborate with people (on the final point, Gordonstoun have recently set up a ‘learning to listen’ course).
Gordonstoun pupils receive a chunk of their character education through ‘Out-of-Classroom Learning Experiences’ (OOCLES). This involves, amongst other activities, the sail training, outdoor education, services, sports, arts and activities. Involving over 1000 current pupils, parents and alumni, the recent research sought to understand the outcomes of the OOCLES. The results are conclusive: 94% reported that OOCLES had a positive influence on their personal growth; 74% reported that OOCLES had a positive influence on their career; 57% felt that OOCLES enhanced their academic studies. During focus group discussions, the following key features of OOCLES generated positive outcomes: responsibility; challenge; leadership; independence; service. In conclusion, this third-party research found that OOCLES had a powerful influence on pupils’ personal growth, and they gained in confidence and resilience, which they could draw on when facing new challenges. Of the parents, 81% felt that OOCLES enhanced their child’s academic studies.
The full research can be downloaded here:
I am certainly not suggesting we launch an outdoor education programme in the scale of Gordonstoun’s, far from it. What I gathered from this research is the scale of the impact of character education interventions on any scale. I think this was perfectly packaged at the conference by Dominic Randolph, Head of the Riverdale County School in America. He spoke of the importance of ‘purpose’ in education. In addition to improving learning, he felt character education added to the sense of purpose, both individually and across a whole school community, that can add so powerfully to academic and personal development.
Penn University has developed a Character Strengths test which you can take here. Through a number of multiple choice questions, it will rate your 24 character strengths in order.
Head Master's Commendations
Many congratulations to the following who were awarded a Head Master's Commendation during Assembly last Monday:
Sam P: For creating an informative PowerPoint about the Solar System in French
Leah H: For creating two posters in French about her house and descriptions of animals
Tabitha P, Poppy J: For outstanding work in French
Milton O’B, Syun P: For excellent team work in Geography
Sebastian M: For excellent role play in cliff collapse reconstruction
Oliver P, Mansa H, Tristan U-I, Jay-Veer G: For setting themselves at least 70 questions in Educake Science, a new programme that allows pupils to set their own questions. A tremendous effort!
Edith R: For great contribution in Drama, introducing a style of performance that encourages audience participation and moral lessons
Matilda U-I: For demonstrating an unwavering commitment and enthusiasm for Drama
Jessica G: For showing great initiative in Drama.
Spirit of St George's Awards
Harry W: For demonstrating resilience and good humour
Alex L: For showing consistent politeness to others
Theo H: For being kind and helpful to friends in class
Andreas L: For being kind and helpful to friends in class
Alexios S: For kindness to a younger chorister.
Sports Players of the Week
Years 3 and 4: Lucas Tan – teamwork. For his efforts as a goal keeper, saving two penalties to keep his team in the contest
Years 5 and 6: Radley Hawes – Enjoyment. For scoring an incredible six goals to contribute to a convincing win for the Colts Bs.
Years 7 and 8: Savannah Kennedy – Enjoyment. For her contribution in the first netball match for the school
Year 6 Visit Winchester Science Centre
The Y6 science trip to the Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium started with an exciting challenge titled ‘Robot Disco’. In teams, the pupils were required to program robots to perform a series of intricate moves worthy of Saturday Night Fever. The rest of the day included exploring the Space Centre to find out lots about the universe and space travel. This was followed by an out of this world journey through the universe in the Centre's wonderful Planetarium. To cap it all off, the pupils explored the rest of the galleries trying out a whole range of science activities.
Community Defibrillator Project
If you would like to support this life-saving local initiative, please click here.
Adventurer and Explorer Charlie Walker
On Wednesday Charlie Walker visited the school again to tell Year 7 and 8 pupils about his global cycling adventure that lasted four and half years, covering 43000 miles in total. His presentation was inspirational and both pupils and staff were amazed at his account of adventures along the way. He spoke about developing courage, self-confidence and a passion to fulfil one’s own path in life.
DT and Food Technology News
The Year 7 students are extending their electronics knowledge by building an electronic recorder this year. The circuit contains some similar components to the speaker they built last year, but is more complex and has more intricate components. They have done well; completing successful circuits whilst learning about them at the same time!
Another group in Year 7 are enjoying revisiting some of the skills they learnt in Food Tech last year. On Thursday they made minestrone soup, so there was lots of vegetable peeling and chopping! Last week they made Victoria sandwiches, which some of the previous group have already made again outside school - Syun made one for his cousin's birthday, which his parents said was a great success. In the next few weeks Year 7 have apple crumble and chocolate muffins to look forward too.
Wednesday Football Match Reports
On Wednesday the 1st XI had a fantastic game against Holme Grange School. The first half the team started slowly, allowing Holme Grange to win every header and we looked a little rusty when we got the ball at our feet. Harry W, once again, made a number of outstanding saves to keep the teams even. This was the catalyst that spurred the team on; Harry E showed good feet a number of times, carving some good chances that went just wide or were saved by the goalkeeper. Despite being very even, we did switch off at a corner and this allowed the opposition to go into the half time break with a one goal lead. The second half was the best football that we have played all season. The team worked hard, they passed the ball around the opposition players, won every header and tackle. It wasn’t long before we drew the scores level with a goal from Harry E. Not long after this Kieran E scored two more goals and saw two more efforts hit the post. Leo C and Nathan M were creating lots of issues for the Holme Grange full backs and the St George's defence all dealt with any threats superbly, keeping the final score to 3-1. This was a tremendous effort, we must now kick on and continue to set these high standards in our next game.
The 2nds competed well for periods of this game, but defensive mistakes cost us dear against a ruthless Holme Grange team. Shipping goals in the opening minutes could have dispirited this St George'ds team, but we bounced back and Daniel W scored a deserved goal for the team in the second half. Zeph K toiled endlessly in defence, Miles M worked furiously, and Daniyal P showed signs of skilful interplay with teammates. Further opportunities were not taken, however, and with no substitutes to use in the latter stages on a large pitch, tiredness can be blamed for the final goals scored by the opposition. 1-8
The 3rd team played two games against Holme Grange school. They started the first game well passing and moving the ball efficiently around the pitch. This led to St George's taking the lead and keeping it all through the game, winning 1-0. A great performance - both solid in defence, whilst an attacking threat throughout the game. The second game was a reshuffled team for St George's, with many players not in their favourite position, but a good experience for them regardless. Holme Grange were much stronger in the second game, playing some lovely football and St George's struggled to match their intensity of the first game. However, some great football played by both teams in good spirit!
The Colts A continued where they left off from the previous week, with some excellent team goals early on in the first half. Unfortunately, they grew too eager to score more goals and neglected their defensive duties! The rest of the match became a lesson in ‘game management’ and a hard one to learn. When you are ahead, you do not need to push forward and score lots of goals; take the opportunities when they come and hit the opposition on the break. It was good that the boys never gave up.
The Colts B played an end-to-end game against Holme Grange on Wednesday. Their performance was a little lacklustre compared with the previous week. However, Radley H scored first, which was against the run of play. Holme Grange pressed hard, eventually converting their efforts into two quick goals, one of which was a header from a corner and won 2-1. The Colts B learnt a lot from this game – not to expect an easy game the week after a convincing win, to get to the ball that has been passed and to control the ball quickly, immediately looking for options to pass, dribble or shoot. Moving into space quickly and calling for the ball is something the team need to work on sustaining throughout an entire match. Despite their own disappointment, they were gracious in defeat.
The Colts C team played some wonderful fast-paced football with slick passing from start to finish. Special mention goes to Henry B, Bikram H and Fede R on their efforts to move the ball around and create space when attacking. There was a similar story for the Colts D, who played against a strong Holme Grange side but were able to produce some slick moves, despite being under considerable pressure at key phases of the game.
The Colts Development Red had a very pleasing performance, with many players trying out different positions and ultimately different challenges within the game. A special mention is made to Ethan F-G and Charlie H for their efforts to plan in midfield and to Nathaniel N for his dribbling skills and ability to beat players.
Our Development Blue team played really well and showed great teamwork throughout the game. This teamwork culminated in a brilliant goal, scored by Halley L during the second half. All through the game, our players helped each other and never gave up, leading to some really fantastic football.
Friday Football Match Reports
The Under 8s travelled to Holme Grange on Friday. It was a close affair for the Red team, with both sides creating lots of chances. Thomas D and James C were solid in defence, Herbie W, Arthur Jack E and Leonardo DZZ showed lovely skills on the ball and created some good chances for Ezrah H, who never stopped running! The team passed the ball extremely well and it was a pleasure to watch. The White team played outstandingly and produced some of the best football of the season against a good Holme Grange side; they ultimately proved to be to strong in attack. It was great to see such good passing between players. The Blue team have shown they have made wonderful progress this term, with Week 10 being no exception; they worked hard to find space on the pitch and to develop the passing skills. A special mention must go to Toby D for his efforts in midfield and Hugo L for his goalkeeping.
The Under 9 Red team player brilliantly on Friday to win 3-1. In an entertaining game, both teams created chances, but it was St George's who ultimately came out on top. The boys showed great teamwork and were especially good in defence. Special mention should go to Paul R who scored two well-taken goals. The Under 9 White team played a spirited Holme Grange team. The two teams were evenly matched and played in an end to end game with neither team dominating. Holme Grange scored the opening goal of the fixture, with St George's hitting back with a great strike. Unfortunately, the game was decided by a penalty scored emphatically by the Holme Grange striker. The Under 9 Blue team had a very competitive first half, but found it hard in the second half to link the passes together and relieve pressure from the back. There was no lack of effort on the pitch and the boys showed great resilience to keep going until the final whistle.
Thursday Year 2 Afternoon of Sport
On Thursday afternoon all of year 2 travelled over to Holme Grange School to play their first Hockey and Football matches with an opposing school. The girls had a very exciting afternoon of hockey relays. This term they have been practising their grip, dribble and push and put this to good use in the relay races. They concentrated really well and listened carefully to the instructions given. They were so enthusiastic and cheered each other on. They really were a credit to themselves – well done girls!
The boys split into three mixed teams combined with Holme Grange. It was a fantastic opportunity to put into a game situation all of the skills that they had been learning in games lessons this term. Judging by all the big smiles on the faces of the players, it was a very successful afternoon - well done boys!
Wednesday Netball Match Reports
On Wednesday the U10 girls played an excellent away game v Upton House. They worked as a team to move the ball up the court. There was an evident improvement from previous games and the teams acted well on feedback given in between quarters. Special mention to Tilly W and Poppy J who work exceptionally hard on getting into space and moving the ball effectively down the court. Isla M also played out of position as goalkeeper and made some fantastic interceptions throughout the match, despite being up against a very tall shooter! Unfortunately the As could not convert their fantastic court play into goals, and they were unlucky to lose 6-3. In the B team match we saw some great work in the shooting circle from Evie C, who converted many passages of play into goals. The defence worked hard against some tough opposition with Charley W making some great interceptions as goalkeeper. Well done to Jeevan H who held her position as Wing Defence and grew in confidence as the game went on. The final score for the B team match was 8- 2! Well done to all the U10 players.
The U11 match at home on the St George's astro was exciting and competitive from start to finish. With both teams being of similar standard, goals were scored back and forward throughout the whole match. St George's went ahead many times with some excellent passages of play from Ella G and Carys C, with Yana V converting many goal scoring opportunities. There was some great defensive play from Willow W, who contested really well. A few unforced errors resulted in a 1 goal loss but there were lots of learning opportunities. A great effort from all!
Friday Netball Match Reports
On Friday the Under 9s went to Upton House for their second match of the term. It was a difficult match for the Red team. Our opposition were fast and alert and we struggled to keep up. Our defence worked hard to intercept the ball and had some success. Well done to Siena L and Alma S who made some good moves to lose their defender. The Blue team had a closely contested match resulting in a draw. The teams were evenly matched. This created an exciting game with the ball travelling up and down the court continuously. Congratulations to Edith R for scoring the equaliser and to Celeste J for receiving Girl of the Game.
The Under 8s had a wonderful afternoon playing in their first netball matches for St George's. The girls listened to the coaching points throughout and it was evident they have been working hard in lessons. There were some excellent interceptions on court which prevented the opposition getting towards their goal. The girls worked the ball down the court beautifully, finding excellent space and converting the goals, resulting in a 9-0 win and a 2-1 win in the two matches played. Well done to Cicily Warn and Cecily M who received Player of the Match.
Children in Need 2019
St George's pupils always look forward to dressing up for this annual charitable occasion and this year was no exception. On Friday, onesies were very much in evidence and were even sported by some members of staff, although there were also some very imaginative costumes. To date the total raised this year is over £900 but there is still more to come in.
Solutions to last week's Maths Puzzle
This week's Maths Puzzle
Word of the Week
The Head of Key Stage 3 and CEOPs (Child Exploitation and Online Protection Agency) Ambassador Richard Follett from Pangbourne College, is giving a talk on navigating e-safety for parents.
It is primarily aimed at parents of children in years 7-10, but is open to parents of younger children and from local schools as well as Pangbourne College. The talk will begin at 09:30 on Saturday 30 November at the Falkland Islands Memorial Chapel, Pangbourne College, RG8 8LA.
Mr Follett has delivered talks across the south east of England in recent years to parents, teachers and in schools, so hopes this will provide a useful insight into the ever-changing technological world in which our children are growing up.
The talk will discuss a number of issues affecting children (and some adults!) including social media trends, apps, sexting, gaming and addiction, as well as issues relating to sleep, making some suggestions for how to tackle the 'difficult conversations' which may arise as a result. There is a growing dependence on mobile and online technology which is affecting all of us in different ways. Parents are often concerned that their children understand more than they do and therefore feel rather powerless to provide the much needed support and guidance. The presentation will look at the various technologies used, their merits and pitfalls as well as offering some insight into how these may be better managed at home.
If you would like to attend then please fill out this booking form:
More images from the week
Last week Mrs Beccy Mansbridge left us after five, sometimes chilly years as Playground Supervisor. We wish her well in her new appointment which happens to be indoors in a library! Year 2 produced some wonderful poppy art and enjoyed playing benchball when it was raining outside. The older girls enjoyed practising netball on the new court surface.