At Avon House, we define Character Education as:
Character Education implements the “Jubilee Centre – Building Blocks for Character” model which brings together different virtues traits into four building blocks (Intellectual, Moral, Civic and Performance Virtues) alongside the ability to practice Practical Wisdom to build an individual character that will flourish.
By ensuring that our Curriculum and Extra-curricular activities allow pupils to experience and understand virtues in each of the four building blocks, we are encouraging our pupils to have a more balanced approach to their own character development and how their choices can affect the development of those around them.
Avon House has Character Education at its core. All aspects of Avon House school life are underpinned by our belief that a child’s character is a combination of all the values and qualities that they possess. By providing our pupils with a range of opportunities and experiences, both within and outside of the classroom, our School becomes a platform for all children to flourish.
Avon House Preparatory School was founded on the current site in 1965 having initially been Essex House Preparatory School with the age range of pupils increasing from 3 to 13 years.
From its early days, Essex House Prep was known for it’s up-to-date practices, welcoming children of all backgrounds and attainment, with a whole hearted and devoted approach to caring for the pupils. This was further echoed in the school’s core values of the time; to take delight in learning, seek advise and to work together.
Since 1970, the School has been owned by Avon House School Ltd. Under the guidance of Mrs Sheila Ferrari, who, over time, grew and advanced Avon House into an educational centre providing an outstanding private education for pupils of all abilities, centred around a Christian ethos. At the time, the school was known as a “Respecting School,” which has become the cornerstone of our philosophical foundation:
“Avon House is a family, concerned for the happiness and general well-being of all. Celebrating and supporting every pupil begins with self-esteem, honesty, fairness, integrity, respect for oneself and respect for others. In our happy, secure environment the emphasis is placed on each pupil being recognised as a valued individual. We hope our pupils will develop their full potential in both academic and non-academic fields, with a strong moral understanding of truth, equality and humanity. We aim to give our pupils life-enhancing strategies to build on as they progress towards the adult world.”
The name of the school was changed from Essex House to Avon House as the Headmistress Mrs Boreham was passionate about Shakespeare and out of this came the significance of the swan as our school emblem (The swan of Avon was a nickname for Shakespeare). The emblem has evolved three times since the school was founded to the current line drawing of a swan. In literature and mythology the swan represents transformation, intuition and grace and in the same way, we expect through perseverance and teamwork, our pupils too will be transformed and flourish into who they are meant to be.
If you were asked the question “How are you feeling today?” what would your answer be?
At Avon House, this is a question that our pupils are asked on a number of occasions and one that we are committed to helping our pupils have the emotional literacy and confidence to answer. For once we know how our pupils are feeling, we can tailor our teaching approach to create an environment that encourages learning and a working for all.
Emotions are known as the meta-virtue, as they supersede all other values, making it difficult to do the right thing at the right time. In order to address this, we are committed to developing the Emotional Literacy of all pupils.
In our Pre-Prep Department, pupils use Emotion Monsters to help them identify how they are feeling and in our Prep Department, a matrix is used to help the pupils understand why they are feeling what they are and what to do to change this feeling.
Values are a moral quality that an individual deems as being desirable. A pupil’s character is then the combination of qualities and values that make up a person. Based on our history and ethos, Avon House has selected core and weekly values that we believe reflect an Avon House pupil.
Utilising the Jubilee Centre Building Blocks for Character Model (2017), we have ensured that the values chosen are from different categories of virtues that when combined will encourage pupils to have a well-rounded character.
To encourage pupils to reflect upon our weekly values, each week, pupils are given an opportunity to learn about the value and set themselves a target for showing that value during the week. On Fridays, staff and pupils are given the opportunity to reflect upon their attempts to meet this value.
Each week, during our whole school Friday assembly, each class (including EYFS) will select a pupil who has best demonstrated the weekly value. Along with receiving a sticker from the Head Teacher, the pupils success will also be acknowledged in the schools weekly Flight.
In addition to this, as part of our annual Prize Giving service, in both the Prep and the EYFS and Pre-Prep Departments, a pupils is selected by staff members as someone who has best demonstrated all of the school’s vales throughout the year to receive our Avon House ‘Value’ award.
As part of our commitment to developing Character Education at Avon House, our staff play a vital role in being the role models of expected behaviours and attitudes. This is done through the verbalisation of values and emotions in both their own experiences and highlighting examples that occur during curriculum time. This verbalisation is aimed at stimulating pupils thinking, enabling them to connect and identify an emotion/value in a given situation.
In addition to this, using the principles of ‘Framing Theory,’ adults in the school, acting as role models, encourage pupils to take an active role in their own personal decision-making process. By providing pupils with a selection of options that they can take, when faced with a problem, we hope to empower them to choose one of these options – or one of their own and then reflect upon whether this choice was the right one or not.
In Year 6, pupils are given the opportunities to be role models, showing the expected behaviours and attitudes expected at Avon House. In the playgrounds and around the school, Year 6 pupils are also encouraged to help the younger children navigate situations and scenarios that they encounter at school. We are also committed to ensuring that the voice of the child is our priority and as such, all of our school council’s and our four houses are led by Year 6 pupils and they are directly involved in the schools decision-making process.