Building Character, Shaping Futures.

Building Character, Shaping Futures.

11 March 2024

St Mary’s School, in Gerrards Cross, consistently achieves individual student success through a finely balanced approach that develops the whole student during her time with us. Character education is a deliberate and purposeful part of our holistic education. In teaching children the values, beliefs and behaviours that they need to be responsible, successful members of our school community, we are developing in our students the skills and mindset they need to strive for excellence and become role models who will take their place in the world and achieve their goals in whatever field their passions and interests lie. As we encourage our students to develop themselves holistically, we are also supporting their well-being and positive mental health.

We know how important it is that we ensure all our students are equipped for a modern and changing world, where new technologies and major demographic and environmental changes are predicted to transform education and employment over the coming decades. Using the acronym TAKE CARE, we identify a range of character strengths as important for students to develop. St Mary’s students are:

Team players, who enjoy leading and engaging with peers as mentors, as collaborators in lessons, in sports teams and in musical ensembles. Our students take on leadership at all levels of our school, gaining a sense of purpose and responsibility when supporting their peers and the wider community.

Adventurous, embracing new challenges and opportunities, for example, trying one of the sixty clubs we offer each week throughout the school. Kind and empathetic, acting as positive role models by supporting each other and showing respect for everyone in our diverse community.

Kindness, showing care, and empathy to build positive connections with others in the community

Enthusiastic, sharing their enjoyment of their learning and actively leading and supporting charity events to raise awareness or fundraise

Curious, engaging in their learning, asking questions and seeking out knowledge

Ambitious to achieve their personal best academically and to learn new skills outside of their academic lessons

Resilient, ready to have another go if something does not work the first time, and recognise that success is a journey and not just a final product

Excellent, in that they strive to be the best they can be, acting with honesty and integrity in everything they do.

Character education underpins everything we do at St Mary’s. It is integrated into our academic curriculum; students are challenged not just to be active in their learning, but to take the lead, to be curious, and to be academically ambitious under the guidance and supervision of their teachers. Fostering habits that lead to such an active approach requires teachers to know each student they teach and what will support and challenge them in their learning pathways. At St Mary’s School, Gerrards Cross, every student is an individual, and we encourage our students to strive to be the best version of themselves and teach them how to be resilient when things sometimes do not go to plan. By encouraging students to learn from their mistakes, we help them to develop a growth mindset, and to celebrate the pathway to success as well as the end result itself. We pride ourselves on our excellent examination results at GCSE and A Level, but equally we teach our students how to learn, so that they become lifelong learners.

Students at St Mary’s enjoy the opportunities both in and out of the classroom to extend their learning under the belief that a school experience should be vibrant and exciting. With a healthy mix of expectation and opportunity, our students naturally engage in a wide range of activities, both in and out of school, which provide them with a sense of accomplishment, meaning and engagement. The rich tapestry of clubs, societies, and community work ensures that each student their place at St Mary’s, and this helps to build our students’ sense of confidence and pride. They leave their school education achieving far more than the excellent A Level and GCSE grades that they have secured. They leave knowing that as young women they have the skills, ability, and confidence to change the world. And they do!

The promotion of self-care and responsibility for others enhances the sense of community that underpins our in-school support for when our well-being might be impacted. It is not just our students who TAKE CARE, all school staff at St Mary’s, plus a team of Sixth Form Peer supporters, have been trained in Mental Health Awareness through the MHFA England courses. Our pastoral and medical teams support students to ensure positive mental and physical health, whether this is through a proactive and bespoke pastoral programme for each year group, or encouraging those who need support into additional services at the earliest opportunity, reducing the chances of escalation. Bertie, our Well-being Dog in training, will gradually enhance targeted emotional support for students requiring assistance. Providing a framework of support and challenge to develop non-cognitive skills, character education underpins the success and wellbeing of all members of our community.

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