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Mutual respect and care

Raymond Ross visits Carrick Academy and a cluster of primary and special schools to see how personal and civic values education affects a community

At Gardenrose Primary in Maybole, four P7 pupils, Bryony Harvey, Lisa Campbell, David McCulloch and Connor McGill, are giving a presentation about the school's values: caring, honesty, respect, loyalty and trustworthiness.

It is a very polished performance. They have already given it at the council chambers in Ayr.

They explain the role of the house captains, the prefects, the school council, the buddy system and the suggestion box, which is emptied every month and 10 "sensible" suggestions are discussed by the headteacher and the house captains. At present they are considering the suggestion of lockers for the pupils. They have ascertained the cost, pound;700, and are looking at ways to raise the funds.

Values education started at the school in August 2003. Involving pupils in establishing values was crucial, says headteacher Mary Scott. "You can't impose values. Pupils have to believe they are their own values.

"Ours certainly have a big thing about honesty. When staff pointed out that trustworthiness might be covered by honesty, they still insisted on having it as a distinct value for the school," she says.

"People are better behaved and they think about our school values more," says Bryony Harvey.

Pupils have a say in the games they play in the playground and can bring in their own games.

They wanted and got bins to help keep the playground tidy.

For a recent mini-enterprise, pupils prepared and sold fruit kebabs, helped by a home economics teacher from Carrick Academy. They raised pound;57 in two days, winning a trophy and pound;250 from Alloway Rotary Club. The school council is still deciding what the money should be spent on.

"I can see things changing," says Mrs Scott. "Pupils speak out more, even if it's something teachers might not like." She gives the example of one youngster's complaint that pupils opened doors for teachers but not all the adults returned the courtesy. "Staff were horrified. So everyone does it now.

"We are responsible for the messages we give the children. Teachers are more aware of modelling behaviour now.

"A caring school is built on mutual respect, pulling together and working as a team to get the best out of our children.

"We always focus on what we are aiming at and why, giving attention to detail and picking up on possible issues, because success breeds success."

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