Research shows that pursuing a character-driven approach to education, based on a firm set of values, can produce a high-performing culture and ethos. At Great Schools Trust, consideration was also given as to how our young people could be advantaged in becoming upwardly mobile by progressing into employment, further and higher education once leaving the Trust.
Besides the academic skills and intellectual habits that the Trust’s academies help them to acquire, we believe they need to have an enriched cultural education programme to give them parity with their more affluent peers and to be able to upwardly manage and positively influence those around them if they are to become successful.
To assist our young people to develop such influencing skills, ‘leadership’ was chosen as the Trust’s specialism.
To fulfil our mission of improving the future life chances of our young people, we encourage each of our academies to ensure that all students leave us with a strong sense of mission and moral purpose.
When they are ready to enter the outside world, we want them to have the skills and experience to become a young leader and influencer, determined to produce a fairer society. They can only achieve these qualities if each of our academies develops a strong series of leadership opportunities which will allow our young people to gain the self-confidence to lead others.
We achieve this by each academy’s specialism being the development of a young person’s character through the opportunity to lead others. This is not just seen in each academy’s combined cadet force, but as sports leaders, classroom leaders and greeters, prefects, school councillors, environmental leaders and a host of other opportunities to lead. These opportunities are further enhanced through annual residential experiences at our partner outdoor pursuit centres and the Duke of Edinburgh Award being a compulsory part of each young person’s curriculum.
Character education at a King’s Leadership Academy is not an educational programme. It is an approach that, implicitly and explicitly, permeates all subjects as well as the general school ethos; it cultivates the virtues of character associated with common morality. Character is both taught and caught through our ASPIRE code and curricula.
Our ultimate mission of creating ‘successful citizens’ is much more than that – it is for every individual, child or adult, in the organisation to consciously recognise their habits, strengths and areas for development and actively seek to improve themselves, thereby creating transformational change in each individual through the power of leadership.
When they are ready for the outside world, we want them to have a desire to serve and become the next generation of leaders. It is the uniqueness of our specialisms that helps mould these behaviours.