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Sense of pride in a school?

(40 Posts)
jabed Wed 29-Jun-11 17:58:59

Just pondering following a discussion with friends today . (its the end of term and I have nothing much to do) . How do you nurture/ foster a sense of pride in a school? Or is that an outmoded concept these days?

sittinginthesun Wed 29-Jun-11 18:36:59

Do you mean the staff, pupils or parents?

I think that all of the children in my DS's Year 2 Class have a real sense of pride in their school, as do many of the parents. It has a very warm feel, and really forms part of the community.

The teachers seem to be able to mould the class into a unit, where the children look out for each other, and it does have a very family feel to it..

Is this the sort of thing you mean?

jabed Thu 30-Jun-11 05:54:04

Thank you.

I am not 10% sure what I do mean. Yes, with regard to staff parents and children. One assumes the former have impact on the latter?

briefly, we were discussing a somewhat negative attitude amongst some pupils that seems to impact in small ways on their behaviour ( and dress it has to be said). We couldnt work out why it was. The idea of "pride" came into it when we considered how we ourselves had felt toward our own schools as pupils.

I admit freely I personally did not go to a " top class " school but I amd my peers still felt pride in our school. We felt it was a decent school which was respected by others around us and for whom employers would say " I will employ this person, I know his school has taught him to read and write and he will make a responsible employee" As I suggest we were not a " top notch school".

That had a knock on effect in that we were respectful and wanted to continue our good reputation when in uniform so that everyone continued to feel we were " good kids from a good school" So we were always turned out well. We spoke politely and didnt do any mischief that got us into disrepute. We felt we belonged and poor behaviour and scruffiness let the side down as well as ourselves. We cared.

That seems to be missing in so many pupils these days ( especially some of ours - who in fact are very privleged and whose paprents have chosen the school, so they must consider it a good one). We were trying to isolate why they felt so negatively and more importantly how we could change that and foster pride and care about the school. We seem to have lost it - hopefully temporarily but its hard to get something back if you arent sure what it is you had in the first place . Hence my question.

nooka Thu 30-Jun-11 06:07:43

I can remember feeling quite proud about my primary school. We had a school song all about how we'd remember the school ' until we are old and grey' and that the school would be 'in our hearts every night and day' grin I wasn't always very happy there though.

i can't remember being very proud of my secondary school, and I remember some girls having problems with girls from other schools because of our uniform (which wasn't very different, but we were the private school, so I guess that was enough). Certainly when we all hit the fifth form the majority of us started to plan our moves to other schools or colleges, which upset our head teacher no end.

My children when asked what school they go to have always seemed pretty happy, in fact I can remember one of them getting into quite an argument about who went to the best school (not sure that was a good thing though!). The one thing I am sure of is that uniform does not make children feel that they belong, having moved to a country where no one seems to wear uniform I've not noticed any difference at all.

Rosebud05 Thu 30-Jun-11 06:23:08

That's interesting what you say about having a sense of pride in your school.

I had none, especially for secondary, and as an adult hold it (well, most of the teachers) somewhere between contempt and bewilderment (what on earth did you think you were doing giving 14 year olds copying out of books as 'work' for a whole academic year?).

I'd say a solid school with enthusiastic, dedicated teachers is the first step to instilling pride.

bruffin Thu 30-Jun-11 06:32:40

DCs' school seem to have got it right. It is mentioned on their ofsted how proud the children and the parents are of the school. This is a school that is one of the most improved in the country and was a sink school less than 10 years ago.
I put it down to the Headmaster. His pride in the school shines every time he gives a presentation. He has high expectations of behaviour and bullying is taken very seriously and sorted out quite quickly.

cory Thu 30-Jun-11 08:02:21

I went to school in a country where "pride in your school" and "play up for your school" were unheard-of concepts. There was no uniform and noone took the slightest interest in what you wore or how tidy you looked. And there was absolutely no sense that some schools were "good" schools and some schools were not.

Yet looking back I think our behaviour was pretty good, we did respect our teachers and they respected us. We clearly, all of us, took a pride in something and it rubbed off on how we saw ourselves when in school. Despite moaning about having to go to school, we believed in what the education system stood for, we believed in learning as a valuable thing, we believed in treating human beings decently and we accepted that teachers were, on the whole, human beings. I think it was more about having a belief in society as a whole and a genuine belief that learning what the school had to offer was going to benefit us too.

But I appreciate that this is a far more competitive society, and that it is far easier to motivate pupils by fostering a sense of difference: distinctive school uniform, we are a "good" school etc.

Though tbh even here I think the sense of pride that dd and her friends take in her school is very much about the good things they do- excellent pastoral system, good teaching etc- rather than the way they look.

mummytime Thu 30-Jun-11 09:07:46

I'm pro uniform (it makes life easier) but I don't think it is part of a sense of pride; except like all rules if it is flouted and ignored it takes away from a sense of pride. I would think a sense of pride comes from respect, of pupils in teachers, teachers for each other, head for teachers and pupils, and teachers for pupils. It helps to have things that your school does , like Carol Services, or teas for the elderly, or sponsored walks, or even just activity week. It also helps if everyone celebrates achievements. I remember my pretty rubbish school, but it did have a sense of pride, we had one house that was best at sport, we all cheered for the boy who applied for Oxford (didn't get the college he wanted so went to Durham), celebrated the girl who represented GB at gymnastics. It was full of teachers who cared, and traditions like three senior male teachers singing "Three Little Maids from School" in drag to years 7 and 8 at Christmas.

prosopon Thu 30-Jun-11 09:50:11

As a child you knew your place in society and were reconciled to it, those times have probably gone. Your school may have been a great place, it may have failed to properly encourage students to think for themselves - with time and experience not everyone feels the same way about their school. I remember my secondary school with affection for a head and deputy head who truly cared about all their students and tried to teach us good moral values. I recognise now that it had its failings and that for some students pride in the school also meant despising anyone who was not part of it.

What do you want your students to take pride in? You have some students who are showing discontent with the school in minor ways. As no school is perfect you could look at this as an opportunity for improvement (what has gone wrong and how do we put it right) or to improve how dissatisfaction is expressed (do you have ways in which students can raise concerns about, e.g. bullying). Dress is a common way to expres individuality and something to be tolerated. I'd suggest some one on one talks, group talks if you feel they need the confidence from being together, to find out what the problems are. Ideally these would be with someone from outside the school that the students trust. I suspect you'll find any or several of not feeling valued, bullying, problems with children at other schools, poor quality teaching, very rarely inappropriate teacher behaviour (happened at my own school, it wasn't sexual but unwanted interest).

If pupils feel the school cares about them as a person, wants the best for them and believes in them they are more likely to behave well.

jabed Thu 30-Jun-11 10:25:16

(what has gone wrong and how do we put it right)

Therein lies the rub . We dont lnow what has gone wrong and we therefore cannot put it right. Despite being asked no one is willing to own up with answers.

We have had comments from prospective parents ( and those who walk away) saying the children look scruffy and thats why they dont want to send their kid to us. We have comments about our sixth formers ( who do not wear uniform) looking like tarts and slappers - thats the girls. The boys are just said to be "scruffy" . There is that word again. So appearance does seem important somewhere here.

Others just say there are better schools but wont say where or why. None send their child to any specific other school.
Some ( not all) kids say the school is rubbish but again when asked cant say specifically why.

I think, seriously, whether the children think it or not ( and as I said, if parents do not like the school, why do they come?) the teachers do care. They do a very good job in exam results and value added, although I sometimes wonder how many parents realise that as we do not shout about it. Its expected theat any school do the academic things I suppose/
Teachers do show respect for the pupils. I am not sure that is always reciprocated. The attitude amongst some children ( is it from parenst?) that the teachers are second and thrid rate academics and losers ( our deputy head girls said that to me just before she left). Yet mosat of us have Oxbridge degrees . We are all qualified teachers and most are post graduates. I doubt any are bad teachers to be honest.

The comments made are never backed up. A few of us got to thinking this was about not being proud of the school in some way. Why we do not know. There isnt anything wrong with the school ( as I can see) its just some seem to think the grass is greener - it doesnt always prove to be, but no one admits that do they? You can often see though from the lack of meeting expectations when they children are moved ( but then they wont come back - they move on again).

Its small and niggling at the moment but possibly has a potential to grow if not sorted. Hence I was asking

prosopon Thu 30-Jun-11 10:44:40

Sounds more serious that you'd say at first. If the girls really look like slappers (do you think that?) that they aren't wearing appropriate clothing, they need to learn how to present themselves for work. You can insist they wear sober clothing without requiring uniform or impose a uniform while being practical about what you require so that they only have to buy items they could wear to work. You also probably have an issue with the girls' self-esteem if they are being described as looking like slappers and there may be bullying going on. That may be on facebook although there could be bullying at school and the children see nothing happening to stop it.

Try a comments box for criticism, you won't like the responses but may learn something. Most schools do shout about their exam results, if they are even half-way decent.

jabed Thu 30-Jun-11 11:07:32

prosopon,

I work in a top class school. Top of the league tables county wide and in the top 50 nationally. There is nothing wrong with the exam results. We do speak of our exam results. As I said it goes without saying we have that reputation.

So its difficult to say where this issue is coming from. It may in fact stem from one or two disaffected pupils( parents) from the past who have set about making trouble. I do not know ( there is a view this is the case).

Despite some of the comments here about uniform not being important , it would seem it is. We are not great uniform enforcers to be honest. Many other schools are far stricter ( including the local state ones). Yet we are accused by the pupils of being to strict but told by outsiders the kids look scruffy.

Do I think our sixth form girls look like slappers? Yes, but I am an old man. Who am I to comment on young fashion? We do have a dress code for sixth formers ( suit for boys and " office wear" for girls but the girls interpretation of office wear is somewhat flexible and too many teachers are afraid to challenge it if I am honest about it.

Some of our teachers could also do with lessons in dress sense - but I am old and I have been told I am old fashioned in that respect too.

Like all schools I am sure bullying can go on (anyone who says they are bully free are liars) but I am sure it is minimal. If we are not told about it we cannot act. If we are told, we wil and DO act every time- usually with expulsion. Precisely what the underlying problem is I do not know. As I say, things said are niggling really.

sittinginthesun Thu 30-Jun-11 14:04:40

many years agao now, I went from a Middle School, to an Upper School. Same site, same catchment, but different building and staff.

We all had immense pride in our Middle School, depsite quite a few faults (including bullying etc). The school seemed to work as a team; every pupil felt as though they were part of the school and all achievements were celebrated. We did a lot of extra curriculum stuff, like Gym Displays, music, other sports, and I do think the uniform was worn with pride.

Moving onto Upper School at 13, we had absolutely no pride in the school at all. We felt that we were just part of a sausage machine, the staff hardly knew our names, no extra curriculum sport/music at all. As a result, we did all spend our time pushing boundaries with uniform (almost trying to get noticed I think in some cases), and anyone who excelled at anything had to keep their heads down.

It had to be the staff - the children were exactly the same children, parents the same parents. We were quite aware of infighting in the staff room, etc.

Its sounds as though you need an event/challenge to encourage everyone to pull together.

mummytime Thu 30-Jun-11 14:10:38

I think you should look at other schools which have managed to instill a sense of pride, maybe ex-special measures ones. It also needs to be something that the SMT is all committed to addressing. Maybe some collapsed curriculum activities with the whole school, ensuring the sixth form (if you have one) feel really part of the school, and activities to get the new year 7 to gel.

One local school recently had a new head, and she did a lot to get authors to come in and speak to the whole school, get positive news stories about the school in the local press etc. But I'm sure there are lots more stories of ways schools have addressed this.

piprabbit Thu 30-Jun-11 14:18:38

I think that you need to have uniform rules that are enforced (that includes the sixth form dress code).

I think the school needs to make a big fuss about what it does well - giving credit to the pupils. That might be internal stuff but you should also publicise your successes in outside events. Praise the football team, enter teams for any/all inter school events, get children involved in charity/volunteering work, then get them in the newspapers (in their uniforms) so the whole community can see how great they are.

jabed Fri 01-Jul-11 18:25:05

Thank you for your thoughts everyone. Much appreciated. Much to think about and take under consideration.

LynetteScavo Fri 01-Jul-11 18:34:17

I would say recognising achievements installs pride...small achievements of individuals as well as large, whole school achievements, and everything in between.

Coupled with respect for yourself, and others.

Uniform makes getting dressed in the morning easy, but I don't think it installs pride.(I wore a uniform throughout high school, but was ashamed that I went to that school)

Feeling you are part of something that is achieving more than others (in this case schools) helps.

I think that some of the pride comes from the sense of being part of a team / community. I don't think I had any particularly pride in any of the schools I went to.

However, I see in my son's prep a real sense of the school pulling together. They have whole school projects e.g. they nominate a charity and the whole school engages in events and activities for that school year to raise money for the specified charity. The school has 4 "houses" i.e. teams and regular house meetings are held that involve all the year groups with the older children taking some of the responsibility for organising things.
Achievements are celebrated academic, sporting and cultural. There is also high expectations i.e. if you are a member of this school this is how we expect you to behave and remember people judge the school as a whole depending on your behaviour.

bitsyandbetty Fri 01-Jul-11 20:43:57

I have a great pride in my DC's primary school and sad that DS will be leaving in a few weeks. I have always been part of the PA and look around and see the wonderful things the teachers do, the pupils do and the parents do. It is a three-way partnership and it is not just academic. Yesterday when other schools were closed, the teachers and assistants organised a trip to the river for my DS's class to fish and explore and sporting events made from recycled products for DD's class. DS is now in Cornwall with the teachers and some parents. I think as a family there is a great sense of pride and most of the other parents feel the same.

nooka Fri 01-Jul-11 22:39:00

Your school sounds a little like my high school, where a lot (something like half) of the girls left at sixth form because we just didn't want to be there any more. My mother taught at teh school (which is why I personally left) and I remember the headteacher trying to persuade me to stay. She really didn't understand why our year was disillusioned and i thin it was both professionally and personally upsetting to her. But we didn't really care about that. We were 15/16 and full of the importance of our own agendas and generally aggrieved about all sorts of little things that meant we didn't want to be there any more. I don't know about whether when we moved on we were any happier, or just developed new gripes (probably a bit of both).

What bothered us most -

scruffy teachers having a go at how we looked in our uniform (like it mattered, or we would have dreamed of wearing such ill fitting and unattractive clothes if we weren't forced to)

feeling that we weren't being listened to

having houses introduced and being forced into pointless house activities (we thought that our school was getting above itself I think, I don't think houses are necessary in a day school, and it can be a bit pretentious)

Also I think it can be an age where children at selective schools can get very arrogant and demanding. Obviously some schools manage this better than others.

Personally I think that in this situation a school needs to step back, try not be be aggrieved and certainly not expect people to 'own up' to why they are peeved. An external agency might help wit the culture change that you want. I suspect it might be very hard for teachers and pupils to do it on their own if they are locked in some sort of conflict.

bruffin Fri 01-Jul-11 23:00:20

"I don't think houses are necessary in a day school, and it can be a bit pretentious"

DCs ordinary comp operate a house system. Each form is a house and it works very well. They have lots of interform competitions, but nobody is forced to take part in anything if they don't want to.
The first day of yr7 they are all taken to our local scout camping site and have a day of basically team building events ie raft building, archery etc. The winning house gets a trophy at prize giving at the end of the year.

piprabbit Fri 01-Jul-11 23:18:35

My DDs state primary school has houses. They allow the children to work in teams which cross year groups and to mix with children in other classes, as well as rewarding individual children with house points for especially good behaviour or contribution to class.

Each term, the winning house gets a seriously impressive treat.

The school has a real sense of community and the children really look out for each other.

nooka Fri 01-Jul-11 23:31:15

We thought that the school was trying to emulate more prestigious private schools. It wasn't a big school and I don't think it worked very well. All the house points/demerits for stupid things annoyed us too. But then we were grumpy adolescent girls who thought we knew better than everyone else.

My children's school have small mixed age groups for pastoral support. It works very well and it is very sweet to see the children playing with their 'little buddies / big buddies'.

jabed Sat 02-Jul-11 07:06:15

Interesting that nooka. Every school I have worked in , state and independent has had a house system. I do recognise your comments though. I have heard some pupils complain about us pretending to be prestigious school when we are not - except that in may ways we are a top school. OK, so it isnt Eaton or Harrow or Cheltenham Ladies but as I said , we are recognised up there with the best in terms of exam results and even reputaion (certainly county reputation).

I also recognise the issues about scruffy teachers ( espcially our females sadly, despite a teachers dress code) telling kids about uniform and clothing.
Of course it would be inappropriate for me to tell the girls about their clothing and make up. Make up is not allowed in the school day but too many break that rule ( but other schools have similar rules. Its not us being unreasonable)

Its fine for me as a bloke, I dont have such issues but the ladies do seem to find it hard to find suitable school wear somehow. I dont know why that is. The pupils by and large , especially the girls do look smart. The uniform isnt especially unusual or old fashioned. Many state schols have a similar one now.

The main uniform indescretions are winding skirts up around their navels, dropping top button to reveal their navel ( they think they are just showing a little cleavage but as a man I can tell you, its a lot more than that - and it is embarrassing for a male teacher and even for young boys. But girls fail to understand that. Our sixth formers are just beyond the pail on this one.

The lads can be scruffy but then they try and unlike the girls take it on the nose when pulled up over uniform. As I said we are not big on uniform transgressions, unlike other schools . The irony is many of the girls leave and go to these much stricter schools whilst telling us they hate us for being strict!

Some of the useless activities I can agree with. I too do not like being made to attend certain days which I think we should not have. I too cannot see why we do prep and after school activities / clubs - although parents might disagree. They are not compulsory though for day pupils. If your parents come and get you at 4.00 pm then you dont have to do anything. Its mostly the boarders we give activities for and those who have parents who need us to babysit until work finishes. But kids need to take that up with parents, not us.

The pity is it isnt all the pupils. Its a few who gripe and spoil it for all and set a discontent I feel sometimes.

jabed Sat 02-Jul-11 07:10:38

My children's school have small mixed age groups for pastoral support. It works very well and it is very sweet to see the children playing with their 'little buddies / big buddies'.

I worked in a state school that had vertical tutor groups. I have to disagree with your comment. I found it led to increased bullying and too often fostered a poor attitude, misery and bad behaviour. The younger children learning that from the older ones. Despite all being in together , I found the pupils would try and sit in year groups anyway. The younger to keep away from the older and stronger children hurting them and the older ones
(especially girls ) because they didnt want to be seen with the "kids".

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