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“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again…Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” – Luke 14:34

Character is who we are when no one is looking. Lots of us have an easy time behaving well when all eyes are on us but may not find it quite so easy when no one is watching.

From time to time in schools, as in community, things don’t go as well as we expect or hope. People get it wrong for a variety of reasons. And when things go wrong, there are usually consequences. For example, if you don’t prepare for an assessment, the consequence will be lower performance. This is the natural way of things and the way of the world. One of the most important pieces of preparation for life beyond school, for life in the big wide world, is for our students to know that actions have consequences.

It is important for our students to know and understand that an explanation is not an excuse. There is often a reason when something goes wrong. The nature of consequences can mean that an explanation is not always an excuse. “I didn’t do my home learning on time because I was out on the weekend”. “I don’t have my school shoes because I left them at my friend’s place”. These are both explanations but neither of them is an excuse and neither of them precludes the consequences that will follow. Our aim is to create a situation where it is easier to students to get it right than to get it wrong. Routines and habits are helpful for this, as are legitimate consequences.

We can equip our students to deal with all sorts of scenarios, but no matter how many scenarios they face, there will always be one that hasn’t been covered. This is where character wins. We will equip our students for how to respond in specific circumstances, but it is character that will enable them to respond in new and different situations. Character wins, but we can be explicit in our training of students in routines, habits, and patterns of behaviour and ways of engaging with others.

In life, there are cheap lessons and there are expensive ones. Expensive ones are generally the ones that we learn ourselves. If we are astute and attentive, there are opportunities all around us to learn from the mistakes of others. These are cheap lessons. They are cheap because they are mistakes we didn’t make. Unfortunately because they are cheap we sometimes don’t take them to heart, only to then learn them the expensive way. Where possible, learn from the mistakes of others, because, in the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, we don’t live long enough to make them all for ourselves.

We long for consistency and congruence of character for all in our community. We acknowledge that schools are about learning and growth. Schools are places full of people, together, working towards a common goal, the learning and development of our students so that they might have the biggest futures possible.

We are in this together, so wherever possible, we should treat each other with kindness, dignity and respect. Because of this, there are things that we have to work to remove from, or keep out, of our environment.

Things we want to remove are as simple as unkindness, humiliation disguised as banter, laughter at the expense of others instead of laughter that includes others. Unfortunately, things we need to remove also include things as damaging and difficult as sexism, racism, and bullying. Our strong desire is that none of these things happen at school. In reality, they all happen, and we continue to work strongly to ensure that they don’t.

We take an educational and consequential approach. We want all our students to know and understand that every individual is beautifully and wonderfully made in the image of God and therefore worthy of dignity and respect. We want everyone to treat each other in light of this reality.

We take a dim view of behaviour that does not treat others as they deserve. Our school values are gratitude, respect, courage, compassion, and commitment. We aim to live out each of these values, as individuals and in community. We will continue to do this through education and consequences and through the development of character.

Tim Watson