‘The aim of education is the knowledge not of facts, but of values.’ (William Ralph Inge)

As children across the country start the new academic year there has been a nationwide flurry of activity in uniform shops, stationery and lunch box purchases, selecting bags, shoes and other paraphernalia ready for the start of term. Happily, pencil cases have not yet been replaced by tablets or other gadgets as they emerge pristine and unique to every child and student in the land. I am sure we will all fondly remember a personal favourite item of school equipment from some stage of our education evoking memories of childhood and learning. I certainly do!

Amidst the new uniforms, shiny shoes, tidy haircuts, crisp textbooks and neat file ring binders, schools will undoubtedly be setting targets and standards for the year ahead for both staff and students. “Aim high; work hard; give 100%; work as a team” and so on. These typical soundbites, however easily spoken, should be taken seriously as they directly impact upon progress, achievement and successful outcomes. But perhaps most importantly we must pay heed to the importance of values – the framework that shapes the character and worth of every young person in our care. The moral compass that guides us all and the traits that shape our very being.

‘Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.’ (Anne Frank) – I would add the importance of school advice, wise counsel and guidance to Anne Frank’s words and trust that together we can foster strong values and positive characteristics for all our pupils. Our aspirations exceed academic success, have a meaningful relevance to school and home life and extend to the wider world beyond.

Conscientious, caring, thoughtful, respectful, compassionate, curious, ambitious, engaging, supportive, independent, resilient, happy, positive, confident, creative and tolerant; these are all integral qualities that should be at the top of every school agenda, every year for everyone.