Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Finding Ways to Develop the School Ethos

The 35 lesson plans provided in the No Outsiders book are only half the story; they will have little impact unless we create a whole school ethos where the moral code is reinforced and brought to life. The No Outsiders ethos must be seen to be relevant and real for children to sign up to it and the first three chapters in the book explain how to do this.

We look for examples to use in assemblies and class discussions to show that it’s not just us in our school believing in No Outsiders; lots of people in the UK and around the world also believe in No Outsiders and their actions every day demonstrate this.

The photo (above right), taken from the BBC newsbeat website, shows two unknown men helping out people affected by floods over Christmas. I have used this photo in assembly all week as it encapsulates the No Outsiders spirit perfectly.

I start by asking the children what is happening in the photo and the usually say, “They are helping the old man” so I ask why do you think he needs help? The two men on either side are wearing coats and hoods; it looks like one of them has rain on his hat; where do you think they might be? Has anywhere in the UK had lots of rain recently?

We talk about the floods in Northern England and how it affected people then I ask, so what are the men doing here? I tell them these men visited houses in Blackburn that had been flooded and offered help. They found this stranded man who had no lunch so they made him boiled eggs.

I then ask the children, how are the men in this photo different from each other? Children have answered the men have different skin colour, the two men on other side are Muslim and the man in the middle is not (to which I reply yes, that may be so but we can’t always know someone’s faith by looking at them; you can be white and Muslim, and the two men on either side may not identify as Muslim). I press on asking for more differences; are they the same age? Are there any disabilities evident?

Then I ask the children to consider, did the two men decide before setting out, that they would only help men? Or that they would only help people who were Muslim? Or that they would not help people who were gay? Or that they would only help people who were elderly?

We all agree that the two men clearly would have agreed to help anybody and everybody. The reason is because the two men, like us, believe there should be no outsiders. They didn’t care if the man they helped was white, elderly, wore glasses, had a different faith, didn’t care about his sexual orientation or indeed whether he was male or female! That is what is so great about living in the UK today – we are all different and we all help each other. It’s a wonderful place to be!

Andrew Moffat

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