Reflecting on the vocabulary of relationships

11th February 2005 at 00:00
Our values window at Clehonger CE primary in Hereford is in our school hall, part of the welcoming oasis we have made. Plants, a water feature, displays, photographs and magazine articles create a relaxing atmosphere, write Julie Duckworth and Bridget Knight.

Paul Haley, co-ordinator for Herefordshire's Extended Schools Initiative, invited artist Nicola Hopwood to discuss with the whole school their views about values education. The pupils' vision for their school was clear, and we soon saw that it could be reflected in the design of a stained-glass window. Just five days were allocated to this project, and a group of three adults and eight Year 6 children (coincidentally all girls) was formed.

Nicola took the children's ideas and set up her working space in the school hall. The children decided to incorporate:

* Yellow wings to welcome all and promote high aspirations.

* Hands symbolising co-operation, peace, respect and harmony.

* Musical notes to represent teamwork and happiness.

* A green vertical panel to suggest a growing community.

We hope that visitors will have their own interpretations of the shapes and colours and perhaps reflect on their personal values.

Designing and making the window was done entirely by the children, under Nicola's guidance. The team learned not only craft skills but also about themselves and their relationships.

Last term, chief inspector David Bell dedicated the window to the children of Clehonger and their values, and paid tribute to the staff "for creating such a positive atmosphere in which the children can flourish and learn".

One of the best moments came almost as a by-product. Year 6 boys had not been involved in making the window, but had been patient even though the hall had been disrupted. Just before the opening ceremony, one of the girls stood up and said: "Can I say something to the boys? On behalf of the girls, I'd like to say how much we appreciate their support. We realise they weren't working on the window and we noticed they never complained."

Values education, which we began implementing two years ago, is now a firm foundation of Clehonger school's ethos. Values boards have been placed in the reception class. Children select words at the end of their lesson to stick to the board, illustrating the values they have shown.

In our hall are bottles labelled with values words. At the side is a bowl of glass beads. When a child feels that he or she has shown a particular value, they place a bead in the appropriate bottle. Pupils get a sense of achievement from seeing them fill up.

In Class 45, there is an interactive values board where children write, on Post-it notes, examples of their learning relating to the value of the month.

The vocabulary of values has become part of our everyday understanding.

While reading Fantastic Mr Fox to Year 2, I came to the part when Mr Fox asks his children if they have any more energy to dig further. One excited little boy put up his hand and said: "Miss, they will have to work with unity!" Another child responded: "They can only do this if they co-operate." All the children understand the vocabulary within different contexts.

Values education permeates our school. It strengthens our school community and brings joy to all that we do.

Julie Duckworth is head of Clehonger primary school. Bridget Knight is primary inspector, Herefordshire

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