Developing our young minds away from the classroom and making young people better equipped for the highs and lows of life is an admirable aspiration.
But is it achievable?
At Unity Schools Partnership, we talk a lot about Results Plus.
We continually strive for children in our schools to get the very best results they can which will then lead to many doors being open to them.
But the ‘Plus’ is crucially important as well – signifying everything else that one would consider as a first-class education.
Celebrations, charity work – both fundraising and awareness-raising – and supporting our local community are as important to us in our schools’ curriculum as any other aspect.
We want to educate our youngsters about the wider world, including the impact they can have in their local community, and how kind gestures and going the extra mile can support those who may be less fortunate.
A prime example of this is our work with the YOPEY charity.
Led by the selfless Tony and Jo Gearing, we started working with this wonderful local charity through Thomas Gainsborough School.
Students wholeheartedly embraced the opportunity to become dementia champions and took this valuable learning into their community – spending time with, and supporting, elderly residents in care homes.
The impact of this is obvious and profound on both the residents and the young people alike.
I am delighted to report that the YOPEY charity has continued to work with our trust and recently supported even younger minds to become Dementia Friends.
One of the values at Burton End Primary Academy in Haverhill, and across all our schools and wider trust, is empathy – and seeing more than a dozen Year 5 pupils commit to the project is a wonderful example of that.
But it is just one of many cases of our young people going above and beyond the classroom, supporting local people in their local community and becoming aware of some of the challenges that life has in store for them.
Last week, many of our schools embraced Time for Talk Day.
This is a great opportunity to shine a spotlight on mental health issues, something that should be shared, talked about and worked on every single day of course.
I am proud to say that many of our schools are doing just that.
Laureate Primary Academy is a local beacon having just been accredited with the School Mental Health Award.
Another mission of the Unity Schools Partnership is not only to celebrate achievement, but to use it to educate and guide others.
So I am delighted that David Perkins, headteacher at Laureate, is leading a cross-trust group to develop the best practice list for children’s emotional support.
Only by working together and learning from each other’s best practices – both within the trust and far wider – can we ensure all our aspirations continue to be achievable.