What are Values and why are they the focus of this blog?

I was lucky enough to work for seven years at a primary school that was led by an inspirational headteacher. In the time I worked at the school, she led the school through our Values-based Education quality mark accreditation and it became widely known as a school where the whole school community invested in the values that were chosen. Twenty-two values were chosen by over 500 stakeholders (one for each month on a rolling two year programme, excluding August). The Values were taught as the foundations for how children and adults act, think and behave and included concepts such as respect, love, compassion, self-belief, empathy and confidence. These values were integral to every aspect of school life, and even began flowing into the local community. I saw the powerful change that Values brought to the pupils' lives as well as the school staff and families. 

If you would like to learn more about Values-based Education, their website is here: Please note that I am not affiliated with VbE, nor am paid to promote their website. However, this is where my journey with Values started and I am proud to signpost their work with schools both in the UK and internationally. 

I then went on to work at another primary school who had chosen three key values and dedicated a term to each. This was meaningful in a different way. It enabled me to see that many schools see Values as integral for children developing a sense of self and also a 'moral compass' to help guide them through life and its ups and downs, but that every school embeds Values in their curriculum and school life in unique ways. 

Through working with classes and groups of children at both schools, as well as having leadership positions and being able to run whole-school assemblies, I have seen the power that books can have when teaching children about Values. We often see characters showing Values such as kindness, courage, love, compassion and responsibility. But do we always explicitly discuss these as themes of the books with children? Not always. As a result, I began doing exactly this with my classes and assemblies. I now have a Values Bookshelf myself, and would like to support others in developing the same in their classrooms or homes. 

Here are some Values that schools choose to teach:

Love, Kindness, Respect, Compassion, Community, Integrity, Honesty, Responsibility, Empathy, Self-Control, Self-Belief, Pride, Confidence, Tolerance, Acceptance, Determination, Perseverance, Trust, Friendship, Positivity, Peace, Hope, Consideration, Patience...

This list is non-exhaustive and schools choose their own set of Values to suit their community. My blog hopes to highlight how a selection of these Values can be taught through books and their messages.