For the last ten years, United Learning has had a ‘Pupil Charter’ which sets out the co-curricular experiences which we believe should be every pupil’s right. When it was first introduced, it seemed ambitious, but as our broader ‘Education with Character’ work has developed and evolved, many schools do much more now and the Charter seems limited. So as part of our wider work to develop a Character Curriculum, and following discussions at GEFs over the year, we are now introducing a revised Charter of opportunities which we think all children should experience, together with Co-curricular Expectations setting our the school structures needed to meet the Pupil Charter commitments.
As a school, Grange Primary Academy has always adopted the Pupil Charter, and in many cases gone even further to ensure that the children at our school have the best possible experiences and opportunities to build their character.
What do we mean by ‘character’?
We have a broad view of ‘character’ and fully recognise that our character is developed in everything we do, not just in co-curricular activities. In school, the culture, climate, values, relationships, messages from curriculum and teaching, and the behaviours of adults and children are all significant in developing character. The Pupil Charter and Co-curricular expectations are just one aspect of developing character in schools, and this will be recognised in the wider Character Curriculum under development.
‘Character’ has a number of different senses and all of them are important:
Being ‘of good character’: someone is ‘of good character’ if they have the integrity to do the right thing above pursuing their self-interest, giving in to social pressure or making attractive but poor choices. A person of good character ‘does the right thing even when no-one is looking’.
‘Having character’: someone ‘has character’ or ‘shows character’ when they dig deep, show grit, resilience and resourcefulness, persist in the face of adversity and do their best even when it looks like they won’t succeed. They help others to do the same, lead, encourage and bring out the best in others. A sports team which collapses and falls apart when losing may be said to ‘lack character’ in this sense.
Being ‘characterful’: a person who is full of character has interests, is interested and curious, knows who they are, what matters to them, what they stand for and can express those things and themselves. They will have done enough, tried enough and experienced enough to have found their passions and interests.
If young people leave our schools with all of these, they are well set up to live a good and successful life full of interests, contributing as a pillar of their community and our society.
In developing the character curriculum, we have taken the following key elements of each of those senses of character:
Full of character
Interests and Passions
The Pupil Charter and Co curricular Expectations for Schools
The Pupil Charter and accompanying Co-curricular Expectations are an important element of the wider Character Curriculum in United Learning.
The Pupil Charter sets out the co-curricular opportunities which play a significant role in developing character and that we believe all children should experience. These are opportunities where children can demonstrate and practice character traits in real-world situations. The Expectations considers the school structures needed to meet the Pupil Charter commitments.
In developing these documents, we have drawn on discussions with school leaders and staff responsible for character at GEFs, network meetings, and visits to schools over the course of the year.
The Pupil Charter is deliberately ambitious and will be challenging to achieve in all schools, but especially those who are in more remote locations, have very stretched budgets, or have smaller staff bodies. United Learning will focus their efforts in 2023/24 to ensure that all schools can achieve all aspects of this charter and will work with many of you individually to find solutions.
There are some schools in the group that already deliver most elements of this charter. We encourage them to push ahead with their ambitions and continuously improve their offer for students.
Developing a wider Character Curriculum
Character is not solely developed through co-curricular activities. United Learning’s Character Curriculum will also outline how and where character is explicitly taught in the timetabled curriculum. This happens most obviously through PSHE, pastoral and behavioural systems but also through academic subjects. The Curriculum will also explore the ‘hidden curriculum’ where children learn norms, expectations and values tacitly through the culture, ethos and values of school.
United Learning Primary Pupil Charter
Each year all pupils will:
- be encouraged to take part in at least one co-curricular club, within or outside of school, attending for the duration of the club (or for a minimum of one term across several clubs).
- go on a school trip.
- perform music or drama to an audience.
- represent their class in individual and team activities.
- share their views on the school through student leadership structures.
- hear from an inspirational speaker or author.
In Key Stage 1, all pupils will:
- have a named role with classroom responsibilities.
- volunteer time to serve the local community.
- go on a school trip to place of local significance.
In Key Stage 2, all pupils will:
- represent the school in a sporting, cultural or academic event.
- learn a musical instrument.
- have the opportunity to spend a night away from home and bond with classmates.
- watch a professional performance, production, sporting or cultural event live at an inspiring venue or in school.
- deliver a presentation to an audience.
- volunteer time to serve the local community.
- demonstrate leadership outside their class through working with younger pupils, helping with whole-school responsibilities or taking on specific named pupil leadership roles.
- experience a workplace environment and hear from people who work there.
- reflect on their aspirations and personal development goals with an adult in the school.
Primary Co-curricular Expectations
To deliver an ambitious co-curricular offer
All schools will:
- have a broad offer of clubs/co-curricular opportunities, open to pupils in every year group.
- have sufficient space across the co-curricular offer that all pupils are able to join at least one club each term.
- maintain high expectations for pupils to participate in the co-curricular offer.
- track participation in co-curricular activity and other student commitments beyond school, so that non-participation can be quickly identified and addressed.
Clubs and co-curricular opportunities will:
- be wide-ranging, reflecting the interests of pupils and enabling staff (teaching and non-teaching) to share their own passions.
- include provision in at least all the following areas (some may be combined e.g. Sustainability and Community and Service:
- Music and Performing Arts
- Creative Arts
- Student Leadership
- Community and Service
- Academic extension (e.g. book club, maths club, science club)
- run at lunchtime and after-school to enable all pupils to access the offer
- run consistently i.e. year after year, enabling pupils to deepen and develop their interests over time. However, there may be some new clubs created each year associated with specific opportunities or trips, or identified through pupil voice to reflect their areas of interest, or as a need for target groups of pupils.
- where appropriate, offer pupils the opportunity to build on/develop the skills and knowledge they gain in class and to deepen their interest and passions.
- signpost and champion opportunities for pupils to pursue their interests outside of school e.g. local sports clubs or community groups.
School leaders will:
- introduce the co-curricular offer and expectations to pupils and parents on joining the school and each subsequent year
- inform pupils and parents about the details of all co-curricular clubs (date/time, lead member of staff, entry requirements, etc). This may be provided in a booklet. There is a ‘club sign-up’ period during which students are encouraged to register for an activity.
For pupils to achieve specific aspects of the pupil charter
School trips and residentials
- each curriculum area has at least one school trip associated with it in either KS1 or KS2. These trips are planned into the curriculum.
- subject leaders are involved in the planning of these trips. They consider the prior knowledge pupils need to get maximum benefit. They consider how the trip will support the pupils’ future learning in the subject.
- schools take advantage of opportunities to build the cultural capital of children, even if they are not directly related to the curriculum.
- organise at least one trip for KS2 pupils outside of their local area.
- organise at least one trip for all pupils in KS2 to a local or national theatre to see a professional production.
- organise an overnight experience for all pupils in Year 4. This experience will support pupils to embark on a more ambitious multi-night residential in Y5 or Y6.
- organise a residential trip which all pupils in Year 5 or Year 6 could attend. For example, this may be to an outward bounds activity centre. Ideally this residential requires pupils to stay away from home for a minimum of two nights.
- offer targeted subsidy to remove barriers to attendance.
Perform on stage to an audience
- provide at least one performance opportunity (dramatic or musical) for all pupils in each year. This could be for the wider school community through assemblies or internal school competitions and events. Ideally, it would also involve performing in front of parents and other members of the community.
- include regular performance opportunities in the Music and Performing Arts curricula for pupils to perform their work within the classroom.
- produce at least one annual co-curricular Performing Arts production / show for each Key Stage.
- use music to play a key role in school events and celebrations.
- audition pupils for performing arts roles. Use the auditioning process to talk to pupils about disappointment.
Represent their class in individual and team activities
- organise internal competitions for all pupils through:
- core PE provision e.g. year group or sport competitions
- elsewhere in the wider academic curriculum e.g. United Learning StorySLAM competition
- baking, art, talent contests
- explicitly teach sportsmanship so that children learn how to behave graciously in victory and defeat.
- recognise and celebrate individual and team achievements for all year groups.
Hear from an inspirational speaker or author
- invite internal (e.g. teachers) and external (e.g. people working in different careers) speakers to address pupils at least once a year about their passions, specialisms or inspiring stories.
- provide at least one opportunity for pupils in Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 to receive a coaching session, workshop, or presentation from a professional/high-level amateur sports person, musician, or actor
- assure the quality of talks by sharing speaker guidance with visitors, including: context of the pupils; desired outcomes; suggested structure and delivery advice.
- prepare pupils to receive the talk in advance by informing them of the purpose of the talk and sharing expectations about audience participation. Staff reflect on the talk afterwards and signpost pupils to relevant places to find more information.
Volunteer time to serve the local community
- organise discrete volunteering or community service activity within the local community for all pupils in a KS1 year group and a KS2 year group.
- hold regular fundraising and charitable events within the school, using pupil voice to identify the charitable cause.
- provide an enriching co-curricular offer for pupils in every year group that gives them further opportunity to participate in and learn about social impact and sustainability projects.
- complete a community asset mapping process to identify societies, charities, and organisations within their local community that the school may work with.
Learn a musical instrument & create a singing culture
- use any subsidised offer from the local Music hub and make good use of pupil premium to offer instrumental tuition to all pupils in a KS2 year group.
- provide at least one ensemble performance opportunity for each class learning an instrument.
- signpost progression routes with the instrument within school and through the local music service/centre
- provide singing opportunities for every child, every week. This can happen through the music curriculum, assemblies, or as part of classroom routines.
- In Early Years, this occurs daily and as part of classroom routines.
Leadership and sharing views on the school
- All children are responsible for looking after the classroom. Use posters to show expectations of e.g. a tidy workspace). There should be no named responsibility which involves clearing up after others.
- have a range of pupil leadership roles and teams for each year group. These leadership teams are representative of the student body and should include at least:
- pupil representatives to feedback on behalf of their classmates, such as a school council
- pupil ambassadors who work with visitors to the school
- sports leadership roles
- leadership within co-curricular clubs
- peer mentoring
- senior student leadership teams – selected in part by democratic vote of their peers
- In EYFS, children take responsibility for themselves and their belongings. Children should also have defined roles and responsibilities in groupwork. Ensure that these roles are rotated regularly.
- In KS1 and early KS2, all pupils have a named responsibility within the class (e.g. gluestick monitor). These roles should rotate each term.
- design leadership opportunities for all pupils in KS2 through roles which can be filled on a rotational basis such as pupil voice panels, pupil receptionists, or pupil tour guides. Use school open days and celebration events to provide leadership opportunities for many pupils at once.
- model what is expected of each leadership position. For senior student leadership roles, provide a more formal training programme which focuses on developing specific skills required for the role.
- monitor participation and the impact of pupils in leadership roles.
- provide termly opportunities for the whole student body to feedback on the school via class councils, school councils and equivalent pupil voice structures.
- share the outcomes from pupil voice and consultation with all contributors through ‘You Said, We Did’ models.
Represent the school in a sporting, cultural or academic event
- enter regional, groupwide, and national competitions for arts, sports, and other subjects wherever opportunities fit into the curriculum (e.g. United Learning’s StorySLAM competition)
- organise fixtures for co-curricular sports teams against other local schools wherever possible.
- create strong links with local music Hubs and other local schools. Participate in local festivals, concerts and events through these connections.
Deliver a presentation to an audience
- build opportunities in each year group in KS2 through the academic curriculum for all pupils to deliver a formal presentation to their classmates. This presentation will often involve research and is more substantial than a regular piece of class or homework.
- explicitly teach the skills needed to be an engaging presenter and model what they expect to see from the pupils.
Reflect on their aspirations and personal development goals with an adult in the school
- organise 1:1 conversations between pupils and a member of staff to discuss their future aspirations and personal development goals at least once in Year 6. This conversation may happen alongside discussion of intention for next year.
- allow dedicated time for pupils to prepare in advance of these meetings.
Experience the workplace
- develop deep and sustained links with a few employers, ideally spread across a range of industries and offering insights into a range of job roles.
- invite these employers into the classroom to deliver careers talks and workshops. Use the employers to organise at least one visit to a workplace for all pupils in a KS2 year group.
As a school we have discussed and developed these a bit further in order to meet the needs and aspirations of our own school and community. We call this The Grange Guarantee.
These have been split into whole school objectives, and then phase objectives.