Our Vision, Values and Ethos
In January 2021, Staverton gathered together as a community, deciding it was time to review our vision as a school. Having gone through numerous changes, a national pandemic and a new headteacher, it was felt that this was a great opportunity for new beginnings. There was much reflection and discussion, with staff, parents and governors evaluating the school’s purpose and direction. We considered the school’s strengths but were also honest about the school’s weaknesses. However, from all parties, there is a sense of excitement and anticipation for what the future holds.
Our vision is based on Jesus’ parable of the mustard seed, which describes the Kingdom of Heaven growing and flourishing from small, humble beginnings. We believe that our school is like that tree, which has grown over time. It is home to our pupils, who are like the birds nesting within its branches. They are nurtured in our school, and in time flourish, developing skills, attitudes and values which are important for adult life.
This parable is a powerful reminder that incredible things come from the humblest of beginnings but it also illustrates the abundant life-giving nature of God’s kingdom for all who seek it.
For Staverton, this image is a perfect reflection of what our school should be. We are the tree and are an extension of God’s Kingdom on Earth. Our mission is to grow our tree as far and as wide as we can with branches that reach out into our community, providing shade, shelter and life for Staverton. The birds who nest in our branches are the children, parents, staff and community stakeholders who call our school home.
We place importance on every child belonging to our school and encourage the children to show their uniqueness, every child has a unique song to sing. By the end of their time at Staverton, they will be able to spread their wings and fly high.
Our values are our roots, which help us grow over time.
- Courage for any challenges that we may face
- Kindness for everyone around us
- Respect for our school, our environment, our community and each other
- Forgiveness for others and ourselves
- Trust in each other and in God
- Hope for the future
Staverton provides a deep and rich education that encompasses the breadth of human experience. This means that we not only teach the academic disciplines but also teach spiritual, moral, social and cultural learning too. Throughout a child’s journey through school, they will be taught key values, rooted in scripture:
Each term, one of these values is explicitly taught through collective worship. However, much learning about these values takes place organically through everyday school life. Children are awarded for demonstrating these values as and when opportunities arise. The school adapts its teaching of these values according to our context. For example, at this time of disparity and disconnection, the value of community becomes more prevalent.
Below are some examples of how these values are lived out in practice:
- High quality literature embedded throughout the curriculum.
- Developing children’s understanding of democratic processes through the work of our School Council.
- A curriculum which incorporates spiritual, moral, social and cultural understanding as key elements across all topics.
- Striving to ensure that the school is at the centre of the local community by inviting in members of the local community and joining in with community events.
- Developing children’s awareness of, and care about, wider world issues through assemblies and worship.
- Charity fund raising events, chosen by the children.
- A clear, effective behaviour policy which has the principles of fairness, and respect at its core.
- Reward systems and certificates for embodying these values
So, if the school is to reflect this idea of being a life-giving tree, then it’s important to identify what this looks like in practice. This is not easily grasped and may look different depending on the circumstances. This is something that will need constant review and reflection and is not achieved by rehearsing buzz-words. The real question is ‘how should we be’? We have summarised our ethos below:
- The school community has no walls. Children and adults should be open, honest and vulnerable, knowing that they are accepted for who they are and that God turns our weaknesses into his opportunities. There should be open lines of communication between parents, the wider community and the school. Those who belong to Staverton should feel safe and therefore able to be themselves.
- The school community has no ceilings. We shouldn’t put a limit on what we expect from people and we should encourage all to reach their full potential and beyond. This means that children and adults should be challenged in their learning, to move from good to great.
- The school community has no boundaries. We should be constantly seeking ways to provide experiences and learning that children and adults will remember for the rest of their lives. We should encourage all to explore their ambitions and aspirations for the future.
Theological foundations of our vision
The image of God’s kingdom being like that of a life-giving tree (arbor vitae) is a thread which runs through many passages of scripture. In John’s gospel, Jesus describes himself as the vine, providing nourishment to the branches, without whom no fruit can grow. The psalmist David describes those who meditate on God’s word as being like ‘trees that are planted in streams of water, who produce fruit in season and whose leaves do not wither’.
However, regardless of religious upbringing or belief, the idea of Staverton school being this life-giving tree is an image with universal appeal and one that is ingrained in countless cultures and traditions. This universal appeal is also true of birds. Children and adults alike can identify with birds representing freedom, aspiration and joy. This idea was also one which Jesus drew upon in his teaching, praying that he longed to gather Jerusalem around him ‘like a mother hen feeding her chicks’.
Nevertheless, it’s important to recognise that living by this vision as a school isn’t easy. It requires the school to be counter-cultural. In a world of instant judgements, it asks the school to be accepting of all. Where it would be easy not to help and support those around us, it means that the school should offer its help regardless. Where it would be easier to ‘uproot’ and move to ‘calmer waters’, Staverton needs to hold to what it knows to be true, regardless of the cost. It is not a safe vision but it is a rewarding one.