The Independent‘s education editor Richard Garner has visited a comprehensive school serving one of the most deprived areas of the country that has been officially designated the kindest school in the UK.
The school, the 1,850-pupil Eastbury Community School in Barking, east London, won the award after its pupils posted “choose kind” messages on a Wonder tree in a school corridor. Examples included “know how to give without hesitation, how to lose without regret and how to acquire without meanness” and “Why bully? Be helpful!”
The competition was inspired by the best-selling novel Wonder – about how a boy with a facial disfigurement copes at school – by R J Palacio. She chose Eastbury as the winner because she was impressed by how the whole school got behind the contest. “I was blown away by the dedication and passion the school had [for the competition],” she said. The contest was organised by publishers Penguin Random House Children’s UK with support from the Anti-Bullying Alliance.
In some ways, Eastbury could be considered a throwback to the kind of school common in the UK a couple of decades ago. It is a large comprehensive maintained by the local authority – Barking and Dagenham…
Eastbury, it seems, is proof that it is the quality of teaching that matters most. Its central message is to have high expectations of its pupils. “We’re not putting any ceiling on pupil performance at all,” said Mr Dickson. “We’re actually saying ‘the sky’s the limit’…
Kindness, though, maintains a strong influence. The pupils have raised thousands of pounds for charity in the past few years. And the school has adopted a “peer mediation” initiative in which 60 Year 9 and 10 pupils (13- to 15-year-olds) a year are trained to act as mediators in conflicts between students.
Mr Dickson believes this approach to conflicts has been a major reason behind a reduction in exclusions – there have been no permanent exclusions this academic year and only six fixed-term exclusions.
There are lots more insights in the full article from Richard Garner.
Sounds a great success – anything you would add?
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