Ethos is a term with Greek origins and it refers to the morals, values and beliefs of the school. Ethos is also one of the three rhetorical appeals identified by Aristotle. The other two appeals are logos (logic) and pathos (emotion). In persuasive writing, ethos is all about the credibility as the author. Ethos comes in two forms: there is extrinsic ethos, the authority, education and experience of a speaker or author, and intrinsic ethos, the way the speaker goes about the act of persuading, meaning that he or she is skilled or unskilled with language and terminology. In the educational settings, ethos is affected by the type of school and its philosophy e.g. religious ethos. A school’s ethos is usually based on the philosophy or atmosphere in the school, providing a safe and respected environment that facilitates successful learning (School ethos, 2014). Ethos is also about the sense of honesty or morality the school projects. When the entire school has a common goal and a common ethos, each member of staff, pupils and parents, have a confidence in the school, because they know their opinion is valued, and they live in the ethos and believe collectively in the school’s direction.
Of course, the leadership function is crucial in this process. Head Teachers must believe in, and sell, the school’s ethos to their staff, the local community and parents. When a school achieves a strong ethos, it is far more important than data. It means that the school and its team really care about their children.
A mission statement, or simply a mission, is a public declaration that schools or other educational settings use to describe their founding purpose and major commitments, what they do and why they do it. The school’s mission is its overall intention; it is the modern equivalent of a “motto”. The mission is what the school is intended to achieve on the academic and physical level and it is the summary of goals set forth by the educational institution. It is based on the school’s distinctive beliefs and includes concepts about the environment, services offered and parental involvement. It is specific to the organisation and it focuses on a common purpose. Therefore, a mission statement can describe a school’s day-to-day operational objectives, its instructional values, or its commitments to its students and community. A vision statement, or simply a vision, is a public declaration that schools or other educational settings use to describe their goals for the future, what they hope to achieve if they successfully fulfill their purposes or their mission. For example, a vision statement may describe the school’s highiest ideals, its core structural values, its long-term objectives, or what it hopes for its pupils’ learning and achievements.
The terms “mission statement” and “vision statement” are often used interchangeably. While some educators and schools may define the two terms, or blur the lines that have separated them, there is a general agreement in the education community on the major distinctions between a “mission” and a “vision”. A vision statement expresses the expected future reality, while a mission statement declares the practical commitments and actions that the school believes are needed to achieve its vision. While the vision statement describes the school’s end goal, the mission statement describes its broad academic and operational commitments to its students and community.
The development of a mission statement is a challenging process for schools. Once this consensus has been reached it is expressed in the mission statement, which comprises a core message.
Aims are what the school hope to achieve throughout the year. They include the school’s vision and description and they are usually written down in the school prospectus and set by the Head Teacher in cooperation with the parents and the wider community, who will use the national curriculum to see if children will achieve a key stage for that year or they are on course to do so at the key stage. The aims of education today combine the requirement to prepare children for their economic role in the society with the need to identify their individual strengths and weaknesses, to provide them with the necessary support to achieve several targets. In fact, the techniques of the child-centred education are being adapted not only to ensure the individual child’s growth, but also to prepare him or her to fulfil their economic role in the modern society. Each school has its specific goals, but all schools should be committed to providing quality education for all our children. Schools’ goals usually relate to the promotion of the intellectual, physical, social, personal, spiritual, moral and aesthetic development of all its pupils. Below is a list of several key aims:
• to create and keep a caring atmosphere;
• to be able to participate;
• to have high standards in the school environment;
• to find ways to engage a child in learning;
• to get children involved with each other to encourage learning;
• to make children talk about subjects openly;
• to care for their school and its environment in the surrounding area;
• to involve parents in a child’s education, through the school’s website;
• to recognise that their school is a multicultural place with no barriers placed against race or religion and to respect.
Therefore, a school should aim to help every pupil reach his or her academic potential, acquire the attitudes, experiences, knowledge and skills to lead a full life, and also cope with the demands and expectations of society.
Values describe the moral code the school represents and also provide a general guide to behaviour and reference points in decision making. Values commonly relate to the individuals and the relationships between people; and to our contribution to our society and environment (Aims, values and purposes; 2014). Generally, the value education is the process by which people give moral values to others. This definition refers to it as the process that gives young people an initiation into values, giving knowledge of the rules needed to function in relation to other people, and to seek the development in the student a grasp of certain underlying principles, together with the ability to apply these rules intelligently, and to have the settled disposition to do so. Some researchers use the concept values education as an umbrella of concepts that includes moral education and citizenship education. Many English schools provide a Values-based Curriculum. This means that they promote and teach a set of values to their pupils that will ensure they develop the skills to be good citizens in the future. To do that, schools support a curriculum with a set of principles (values) that are added into the day-to-day teaching and learning so that children and young people can develop social and emotional skills that will positively affect their behaviour.
There are at least 11 values that should be considered universal:
The Government set out its definition of British values in the Prevent Strategy 2011 and considered them to be democracy, rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs. At school these values should be reinforced through a variety of ways and practices.
Many schools reinforce the principle of democracy, with the democratic process being used for important decisions within the school community, for instance, the elections held for our Head Boy and Girl and Prefects.
The rule of law
The importance of laws, whether they are those governing the class, the school, or the country, should be consistently reinforced throughout regular school’s days, as well as when dealing with behaviour and through school assemblies. Students should be taught the value and reasons behind laws, that they govern and protect us, the responsibilities that this involves and the consequences when laws are broken.
Students should be actively encouraged to make independent choices, knowing that they are in a safe, secure and supportive environment. Students should be encouraged to know, understand and exercise their rights and personal freedoms and receive advice about how to exercise these safely, for example through our exploration of E-Safety in PSHE.
Respect is at the core of many schools’ ethos and is modelled by students and staff alike. The schools should promote respect for others and this is reiterated through the learning environments. Mutual respect is embraced throughout the curriculum from the concept of fair play in PE to a number of “buddy programmes” which promote mutual respect between students across different year groups within the schools.
Tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs
This is achieved through equipping students with the ability to understand their place in a culturally diverse society and by giving them opportunities to experience diversity within the school community. Students should be actively encouraged to share their faith and beliefs within the school.