Values-Based Education Conference

Ark Boulton hosted the third annual ‘Values-Based Education Conference’ with Values-Based Education International (VbE), an organisation committed to academic excellence in union with the enhancement of moral, emotional and spiritual sensibilities. 

At Ark Boulton the conference involved a range of speakers and workshops, including a keynote talk from Dr Neil Hawkes (Founder of VbE) and Jane Hawkes (Trustee and Consultant of the International Values Education Trust).  

They discussed the topic: ‘VbE: connecting the past to the future’, and reflected on how their travels around the world echo the global need for values-based education. Dr Neil Hawkes shared, “This movement colleagues is travelling around the world. The more that we have the opposite of values happening... the more it’s helping our movement, because the masses of people want something different, the want a life that is based on values.” 

The topic of ‘Values-driven Leadership’ was addressed by our leader, our Principal, Herminder Channa. She shared her experience at Ark Boulton, and the importance she gives to building relationships. “Technology means that we can access infinite worlds just from a device, but it has actually deskilled us from being able to understand the feelings that come by developing relationships. It has deskilled us in the ability to take on the responsibility that has been given to us in our time. So when I think about relationships, and leadership at Ark Boulton, it’s rooted in the idea that we have this responsibility to one another… what are we leaving behind for future generations?” She went on to discuss the importance to love and sacrifice for our fellow human beings, “to do something that will not benefit you in your lifetime, but will benefit those 25 and 50 years ahead.” 

Professor Bart McGettrick a VbE Patron continued exploring the theme of relationships commenting, “Values cannot be taught didactically, they are carried in the relationships of life.” He added the three core values he believes need to be emphasised in education: love, hope and justice. Expanding that these, unlike grades, degrees or materialistic achievements, form the basis of an ‘educated person’. 

Other inspirational practitioners took the stage during the ValuesMeet portion of the day as they shared their best practice, challenges and ideas for the future. Teachers discussed the importance of staff wellbeing and live classroom feedback to reduce marking and enhance student-teacher relationships. 

Our students liaised with the delegates throughout the day, including a presentation on the virtues curriculum by our year 11 student Farzana. When asked if she attributes she achievements to Ark Boulton she added, “Our school allows us to express the virtues we have, and it [helps us] because we know they exist, we don’t just assume that they do.” 

A number of delegates reflected on the impact Farzana’s speech made on them. Cori Bateman, an Executive Principal who delivered a workshop on ‘Establishing a values-based organisation’ shared, “The words she said in her speech were amazing... I felt so proud of her and I don’t even know her... It filled me with the desire to hear that power coming from the children.” 

Simon Poote, a delegate who also delivered the ‘Valuing the unique child’ workshop shared his learning from the day, “I’ve been inspired by so many people, and the idea that at the core of what we are doing is being [human] and teaching young people to be human.” He added that with the advancements in technology and changes in industry, our humanity is the only constant we can pass on and nurture in future generations. 

Steph Reddington from Pupil Asset summed up the purpose of the day and VbE, “Anyone can pick up a book and talk about history, but if you can’t go into the world and build positive relationships, and know how to behave and act, then you are not really going to get very far.” 

Ark Boulton is grateful to VbE for selecting our school to be the host of this prestigious conference and hope that our partnership with the organisation continues to grow.