“Whole community” approach helps once troubled academy gain top character education accolade

Tuesday 12 October 2021

Ark Boulton Academy in Sparkhill, south Birmingham, is now one of only two secondary schools in England to have achieved the School of Character Kitemark Plus.

The Association for Character Education (ACE) awards the Kitemark Plus to schools they recognise for excellent character education, taken from policy to everyday practice in a school.

Ark Boulton has been working on its character education programme since 2016, and in July 2021, they went through ACE’s extensive assessment process.

The kitemark accolade illustrates the hard work the school has undergone to transform itself completely since it joined the Ark network in 2015.

The ACE report commented on several areas that secured the school’s success; these include:

“A whole-school approach to developing character... has been the underlying vision since the inception of Ark Boulton’s character programme, over five years ago.

“Empowering staff to be confident and competent in the delivery of character education is critical. Before launching the programme, Ark Boulton dedicated a full 12 months to supporting staff to understand Why the development of character is necessary, as well as How to do it.

“Assessors were impressed by the depth of understanding that teachers, leaders and governors had in relation to the local community. Extensive and explicit references to how the school’s character provision was a positive response to challenges experienced within the local community, is demonstrative of the school’s ‘it takes a village to raise a child,’ ethos.”

Ark Boulton’s Executive Principal, Herminder Channa, OBE, said:

“In being awarded a ‘School of Character Kitemark Plus’, Ark Boulton has been rightly recognised as a school that believes character and virtue should be the heart of change. We approached our programme by starting with our staff and leading a year-long programme that looked at how they used language, how they dealt with difficult conversations and role modelling. When new staff members joined, a solid internal culture was in place, which benefited students.

“We believe that the true impact of education is experienced long after children leave school. Transformative education must ensure that future generations have local role models to aspire to, have family units that support and look after one another and communities empowered and invest locally to better future generations. The academy saw no permanent exclusions for two years and highlighted a different way of approaching how we work.”

Herminder added: “I want to thank all of the Ark Boulton family, our parents and the wider community for their commitment to the Ark Boulton Character Programme. It takes a whole community to bring up a child.”