Fundamentals of Success in Education.
One critical aspect of a student’s time spent at school; which is often overlooked by parents when choosing a school; is the ethos which the school engenders in its pupils. While it is easy to look at class size, pupil-teacher ratios and even academic grades, the way in which the students behave and, importantly, are expected to behave is more difficult for a parent to assess in a short time.
In fact, even though this element of a school’s culture can be difficult to assess, it is just as important to a child’s wellbeing and happiness, and indeed future success, as those other areas of a school’s life which are sometimes given sole attention.
The standards of behavior in a school have been shown in study after study to have a direct impact on the academic standards and outcome of the students.
We realise that this issue is critical and have spent a great deal of time and effort to ensure a culture of healthy mutual respect and disciplined behaviour. Students greet teachers in the corridors with “Good morning, Mr. Embley” and the teachers will respond in kind. When an adult enters the classroom, the students stand as a mark of respect. These small habits are only an illustration; the culture of mutual respect requires constant attention and reinforcement.
Other aspects of this culture of social graces are seen in the dining hall, where student table manners are monitored and older students assist younger students with their food and eating habits. Attention to the details of uniform are at times seen as stifling by some students, but in time come to be seen as a matter of pride and belonging.
These might seem at first glance to be small things, but as any parent will know, consistent high expectations coupled with guidance and a feeling of safety are crucial to the proper development of any child.
Engendering a well-behaved and socially adept student body has direct consequences for the school as a whole. Students pick up the habits of those around them very quickly, and if role models display poor behaviour this can quickly spread, leading otherwise well-mannered children down a path to less desirable consequences. Of course, all this feeds back into the academic life of a school. Teachers who are not spending many hours dealing with petty or indeed not so petty, matters of discipline or respect can focus their energies on inspiring young minds and helping students to achieve.
As mentioned earlier, it is not only the students who are expected to take up this behavioural pattern of respect and good manners. The teaching and administration staff of the school have a role in modelling this behavior and setting a good example. It is vital that all members of staff are committed to upholding the values of the school and demonstrating them to the pupils at all times.
In these modern times it’s important to note that these values are not aimed at stifling creativity or marking a return to some of the less pleasant “children should be seen and not heard” attitudes of the past. Children can be encouraged to thrive and do, in fact, feel more secure in a compassionate, structured, pleasant atmosphere of simple good manners and behaviour. Some traditional types of behaviour are worth maintaining and adapting to serve students in the world today.
This includes adapting them to the new “netiquette” and Internet safety issues that students must now be aware of. The idea that children today are born knowing how to use the Internet and how to stay safe while online is patently untrue. The idea that there are no social norms to be respected while online is also false. Keeping a careful eye on these matters is vital for the safety and development of the children in our care as they learn to use these vital tools.
The approach to the ethos of a school is a holistic one almost by definition. It is one that must be nurtured by all staff, parents and students. It is one to which a little attention must be given every day and it is, ultimately, the difference between a school which merely educates the children in its care and one which guides and cares for them while they make the sometimes difficult journey towards finding a confident, successful and happy place in the world. Sign up to Nordangila today, enquire at email@example.com
Mike Embley, Principal Nord Anglia International School Dubai