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The importance of values education

– Dr Mark Whalley, Headmaster of Rookwood School
Ask most parents, teachers and headteachers what they want for their children and they will probably say very similar things. A small number will start off with qualifications and academic success but most will talk about happiness, preparation for life, values and character. I wholeheartedly sit in the latter camp, believing strongly that a good school develops young people to the best they can be by instilling values and developing character. Academic success is then a simple consequence of being educated in a community in which values such as respect, excellence and integrity are threaded through daily life.
Several years ago, when I was a headteacher with Service Children’s Education, I introduced a values-based ethos to the school I led. While I was preparing an early assembly I stumbled across the core values of the Army, the Navy and the RAF. On their websites you can find their value statements: ‘Courage, Discipline, Respect for Others, Integrity, Loyalty and Selfless Commitment’ (Army), ‘Commitment, Courage, Discipline, Respect for Others, Integrity and Loyalty’ (Navy) and ‘Respect, Integrity, Service and Excellence’ (RAF). I was struck by how these statements could equally be used to describe the values of a school.

Now as the headteacher of an independent school with boarding I see values education as being even more important. In term time boarding pupils are exposed to a school’s values all the time and have many opportunities to express those values. Life in a boarding school represents a unique educational experience, one in which a child’s home and school become part of a continuum. Different schools deal with this in different ways and each boarding school will have a slightly different take on this, but what they all have in common is that the entire life of a pupil during term is experienced within a school community.

Successful boarding houses are communities in which all members feel safe and valued. This goes beyond the obligations or the boarding house staff; the atmosphere and ethos is as much a product of the boarders as it is a product of the institution. Older and more experienced boarders create the social atmosphere in which younger boarders thrive, and a commitment to their boarding community is vital in making the boarding house a happy place. Boarders who can do this embody so many of our important values including three from the Armed Forces: commitment, loyalty and service.
Boarding can be an emotional challenge for some children, leaving and sometimes not seeing their family for many weeks on end. They have to learn to live with others, share rooms, abide by rules and keep to timetables. These are challenges that day pupils never experience. So for some boarders, courage is required to overcome new challenges.

I have no doubt that boarding promotes the values that we share with the Army, Navy and RAF. These values form the basis of the character of the young people who eventually leave us and prepare them well for the challenges of adult life. Boarding promotes such a wealth of lifeskills that those who experience it and fully embrace it leave school as well-rounded young people who are confident, resilient and principled.
Dr Mark Whalley holds a PhD in Physics along with a Masters degree in Education and a BSc in Mathematics and Physics. He began his teaching career 20 years ago in Staffordshire and since then has worked in Cyprus and Germany with Service Children’s Education in a variety of roles. He was the Head at John Buchan School in Paderborn, Germany for several years before becoming Headmaster of Rookwood School in 2016.
Boarding at an independant school
School Address Phone Type PR Weblink
Dean Close SchoolShelburne Road, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. GL51 6HE01242 258044Bo(7-18), D, M, 13-18 
Wycliffe CollegeStonehouse, Gloucestershire. GL10 2JQ01453 822432Bo, D, M, 2-18 
Rookwood SchoolWeyhill Road, Andover, Hampshire. SP10 3AL01264 325900Bo(8-16), D, M, 3-16 
St Lawrence CollegeCollege Road, Ramsgate, Kent. CT11 7AE01843 572931Bo(3-18), D(3-18), M(3-18), 3-18 
Kingham Hill SchoolKingham, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire. OX7 6TH01608 658999Bo, D, M, 11-18 
Erskine Stewart\'s Melville SchoolsQueensferry Road, Edinburgh, Scotland. EH4 3EZ0131 311 1000Bo(10-18), D(3-18), B(3-18), G(3-18), M(3-12), 3-18 
Wellington SchoolWellington, Somerset. TA21 8NT01823 668803Bo, D, M, 11-18 
Holbrook, Ipswich, Suffolk. IP9 2RX01473 326136 Bo, D, M, 11-18
St Davids CollegeLlandudno, Conwy. LL30 1RD01492 875974Bo, D, M, 9-19 
Windermere SchoolWindermere, Cumbria. LA23 1NW01539 446164Bo, D, M, 3-18 
King's College TauntonSouth Road, Taunton, Somerset. TA1 3LA01823 328204Bo, D, M, 13-18 
Queen\'s CollegeTrull Road, Taunton, Somerset TA1 4QS01823 340830Bo(7-18), D, M, 0-18 
Denstone, Uttoxeter, Staffordshire. ST14 5HN01889 590484Bo, D, M, 11-18
Stonar SchoolCottles Park, Atworth, Wiltshire. SN12 8NT01225 701741Bo(9-18), D(2-18), M(2-18), 2-18 
Iwerne Minster, Blandford Forum, Dorset. DT11 8LL01747 812122Bo, D, M, 2½-18
Bucknell, Shropshire SY7 0BG01547 530303Bo(9-18), D(4-18), M(4-18), 4-18
Warminster SchoolChurch Street, Warminster, Wiltshire BA12 8PG01985 210100Bo, D, M, 3-18 
Moyles Court SchoolMoyles Court, Ringwood, Hampshire. BH24 3NF01425 472856Bo, D, M, 2-16 
Pangbourne Reading RG8 8LA+44 (0)118 9767 416Bo, D, M, 11-18
Hailey Lane, Hertford, Hertfordshire. SG13 7NU+44 (0) 1992 706353Bo, D, M, 11-18
Green Lane, Harrogate, North Yorkshire HG2 9JP +44(0)1423 566358Bo(8-18), D, M, 3-18
Rossall SchoolBroadway, Fleetwood. FY7 8JW01253 774201Bo(7-18), D, M, 2-18 
Penn Road, Wolverhampton. WV3 0EG01902 341230Bo(11-18), D(4-18), M(4-18), 4-18
Blundell's SchoolBlundell's Road, Tiverton EX16 4DN01884 252543Bo(11-18), D(2-18), M(2-18), 2-18 
Shiplake CollegeHenley-on-Thames, RG9 4BW0118 940 2455Bo(11-18), D, B(11-18), G(16-18), 11-18 
Taunton SchoolStaplegrove Road, Taunton, Somerset TA2 6AD01823 703703Bo(7-18), D(0-18), M(0-18), 0-18 
Cheltenham Road, Burford, Oxfordshire OX18 4PL 01993 823303Bo, D, M, 11-18
High Street, Abbots Bromley, Staffordshire WS15 3BW01283 840232Bo 8-18, D, B, 3-18
The Settlement, Ockbrook, Derby, DE72 3RJ01332 673532Bo(11-18), D(2-18), M(2-18), 2-18
The Old Palace, Palace Green, Ely, Cambridgeshire. CB7 4EW01353 660707Bo(8-18), 1-18
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