Morpeth pupils receive top national award for their outstanding good character
26 May 2023
Inspired by North East legends past and present - including Lucy Bronze, Ant & Dec and Emily Wilding Davison - pupils and staff at Morpeth First School are celebrating after receiving the highest accolade possible for showing outstanding good character.
The school is the only First School and one of only a handful of all schools in the country, to be awarded the Quality Mark Plus Award for Character Education by the Association for Character Education (ACE).
Now, as the North East Regional Hub School for Character Education, its pupils are inspiring others across Northumberland and beyond to follow in their footsteps, with school leaders already booking in visits to find out more.
Champions of Character Education believe that the development of character should be the purpose of education as well as achieving academic attainment and that it allows young people to flourish as individuals and as a wider society.
Morpeth First School pupil, Avery, explained: “Character is what you do when nobody is looking and it means that you're doing all of your character values like treasured, courageous, empowered, kindness and bravery. Good character is about being a good person.”
The school has designed and embedded a bespoke character education programme based on its vision that pupils will be “treasured, courageous and empowered” and aims to instill a set of core values in its pupils, alongside promoting academic excellence for all.
One way the school has embedded their values at the heart of school life is to introduce half termly awards named after the children’s inspirational role models:
- The Ant & Dec Award for Partnership and Teamwork
- The Lucy Bronze Award for Ambition and Optimism
- The Emily Davison Award for Courage and Integrity
- The George Webster Award for Determination and Resilience
- The Florence Nightingale Award for Compassion and Kindness
- The Marcus Rashford Award for Community Spirit
In a special weekly assembly, modelled on Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, pupils and staff are also awarded “the best seats in the house” for demonstrating the character values in school, and children describe their Friday morning assemblies as 'the most fun you can have in 15 minutes'.
Over a third of pupils have also successfully applied for “jobs” within the school that carry important responsibilities including assisting their caretaker with managing the school site.
Other jobs include litter pickers, charity ambassadors and Asthma ambassadors who are responsible for watering the school’s clean air plant.
Nadine Fielding, Headteacher and assessor for the Character Education Quality Mark said: “I am immensely proud of the work we have done, and continue to do, with our children and their families, and also the wider community, around character.
“Our aim is for every child to have good character, and that runs like a golden thread through everything that happens here.
“We want our pupils to grow up to be flourishing members of society, where they have the values, skills and experience to make a positive impact in the world.”
Councillor Glen Sanderson, Leader of Northumberland County Council and Dr Helen Paterson, Chief Executive of Northumberland County Council came along to one of the school's weekly assemblies – based on Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, to congratulate pupils and staff.
Cllr Sanderson said: “I would like to congratulate all the pupils and staff at Morpeth First School on this wonderful achievement. To be recognised nationally in this way is something that I hope they are all very proud of.
“It is clear from everything that has been said however, that this is not about the accolade and a pat on the back.
“This school and its pupils have been recognised for doing what is right – when no-one is watching, just because it is the right thing to do – whether that is looking after their school for the benefit of others, raising money for charity – or showing resilience and determination like in their recent SATS.
“Nevertheless, I still want to say how very proud we are as a council and I think that we can all take inspiration from this – not just schools – but everyone of us in our daily lives. So, thank you.
“In Northumberland, we have over 40,000 pupils at over 150 schools and 92.6% of our schools are rated good or outstanding which is absolutely brilliant and testament to all the hard work of our school communities.
“But this award is also an important reminder that our schools are doing so much more than just focusing on academic results. They are also thinking about the wider skills a young person needs to thrive and reach their full potential.”
Tom Haigh, CEO of ACE, and Andrew Pettit, Director of Schools for ACE, said: “It was evident throughout our visit that leaders have fostered a strong sense of community, nurture and support.
“It was also clear that leaders have succeeded in building a culture of trust, collaboration and mutual understanding which has helped create the conditions in which staff and students can flourish and where character development is an authentic and sustained part of what it means to be a student or member of staff at Morpeth First School.”