Values in the Classroom
(Reprinted from Gatherings, London Borough of Redbridge, Autumn 2003)

How to Inspire and Develop Positive Values in Your Classroom by Neil Hawkes
published by LDA, ISBN 1-85503-371-2, 63 pages

At a time when the relentless pressure of exams and tests is coming under fire from all sides, both within and beyond the teaching profession, this book is an appropriate reminder that there are other ways in which children's learning can be enhanced.

Values education is the concept which the book's author encourages us to consider, if we are to introduce an element of spiritual growth into the curriculum. Neil Hawkes pioneered the use of a values-based approach to learning and teaching while he was a headteacher in an Oxfordshire primary school and has subsequently been involved in its development internationally through the UNICEF-sponsored programme Living Values.

In a clear and readily accessible style, the author explains the theory of a values-based curriculum and provides guidance and examples for those wishing to introduce the approach in their own class or school.

There is no requirement to abandon existing patterns of working and it is definitively not yet another 'add-on' to the curriculum load. In fact, it is a philosophy of attitude that demands that teachers spend some time reflecting on their own professional practice. At a whole school level, discussion among colleagues is essential, as is a commitment to involving pupils themselves in creating the shift in ethos.

However, the practical aspects of classroom organisation are shown to be easily manageable - for example, through 'circle time' - and the book addresses the issue of school-based INSET in a most reassuring manner. There are checklists that serve as a step-by-step instruction manual and useful (photocopiable) planning and record-keeping proformas. I particularly like the assembly record sheet and some very child-friendly phrases used as verbal signposts.

For those who “have a desire to grow spiritually” (p36), I can recommend this book as an excellent starting-point.

Elizabeth Dolan, RE Subject Leader, Fullwood Primary School, Redbridge

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