By Pam King and Linda Barnard
The year 2014 marked the launch of our values campaign at Clarendon Primary School for Girls, a state girls’ school in East London in the Eastern Cape.
This was in response to a presentation given by the Federation of Governing Bodies of South Africa (FEDSAS)1 on values-driven schools versus rules-driven schools. This does not mean that our school rules have been discarded, but rather that they are underpinned by our identified values: respect, responsibility, honesty and caring.
To ensure visibility, we assigned a colour to each value. We wrapped trees in the playground, painted a picket fence in front of the school, staff wore shirts in the various colours to assembly each week and we introduced a values song.
The next phase was to identify and encourage the behaviours that exemplify our values. Beautiful murals of the values with the associated behaviours have been mounted in our hall. These were also evident throughout the school, to remind the girls on a daily basis. After about a year, we felt we had moved to being a valuesdriven school. A significant day for us was last year’s Women’s Day, commemorated on 9 August,2 when the girls were encouraged to tie ribbons on our perimeter fence to acknowledge women in their lives who lived out our values.
Another successful aspect of our campaign was the introduction of bracelets in the values colours. This was to promote recognition by the girls of the values being lived out by others. On receiving a bracelet from your peer, the idea was to “pay it forward” within 24 hours, keeping the girls on the lookout for desirable behaviours in others. Our Grade 7 girls are allowed to wear values badges, which encourage them to model valuesdriven behaviour. Our girls are now far more aware of the values that serve as the guiding principles which shape their lives.
A new service system
A few years ago, we decided to do away with the prefect system, as we found it to be flawed. At the age of 12 years, girls are only beginning to develop their leadership skills.
We now allow each Grade 7 girl to serve on a committee, giving them the opportunity to serve the interests of the school. They also have a lesson a week on leadership and management theory, and they are encouraged to put this theory into practice in their committees. This allows their leadership potential to develop. Two representatives of each committee serve on the Connect Committee (CONCOM), which meets with the principal twice a term, with the aim of promoting communication and accountability among the committees.
There are two levels of leadership awards that Grade 7 girls can aim for: the Emerald Pen and the Diamond Badge. Each of these levels has eight criteria that need to be fulfilled:
Voluntary application for these awards is encouraged at the end of each term, and successful applicants receive their awards at each term’s final assembly. By the end of the year, approximately 40 Emerald Pens and 20 Diamond Badges are awarded.
1. See: http://www.education.gov.za/Informationfor/ParentsandGuardians/SGBs/SGBBodies.aspx.
2. Women’s Day, commemorated annually in South Africa on 9 August, marks the anniversary of the great women’s march of 1956, where women marched to the Union Buildings to protest against the carrying of pass books. (Source:http://www.gov.za/womens-day.)