West Buckland is one of five finalists in the Muddy Stilettos School Awards for 2022. The award is in recognition for the innovative approach to creating ‘future ready’ students and our focus on developing character values. The winners will be announced in June. In another category, ‘Giving Something Back’, the school was highly commended.
The Sixth Form award nomination talked about the schools approach to developing the soft skills that employers are looking for: social and emotional intelligence, collaborative working, negotiation, creativity, as well as digital literacy. This is backed up with fact: in a survey in 2016, 93% of employers deem soft skills as either “very important” or “essential” and in the UK alone, 97% of employers say that soft skills are key to business growth or success.
Through initiatives such as MaD (make a difference) Monday, students are able to develop these skills. The initiative encourages them to try new things, push their comfort zones, excel at their strengths and collaborate with others. Activities that range from sessions on Stoicism and Leadership, to Astronomy, Public Speaking, Wellbeing and Marketing for your Business. Alternatively, they can undertake a leadership course through CCF or work towards their Duke of Edinburgh awards by helping out in the Prep school with activities such as forest school and swimming.
On top of this, the Sixth Form Diploma allows students to reflect on their achievements and the skills they have learned and the barriers they have overcome, whilst taking part in these activities. Self-reflection is an important discipline in life and the best way for self-analysis and improvement.
The 7Cs ((care, commitment, courage, creativity, critical thinking, curiosity and confidence) have become engrained into every part of the school. As such, this has formed the bedrock of our drive to develop character values. Altering our timetable to accommodate more opportunities for extra-curricular and enrichment activities, has enabled students to have meaningful time to develop these skills and to build a picture of how these skills can support them in future.
The real signs of success become apparent when the students take these skills that they’ve developed and use their own initiative to make positive contributions to either their own, their school’s or their community’s life. For example, some of the Sixth Form students recently organised a
community day for the local village: in the morning they organised a coffee morning in the village hall – baking their own cakes and biscuits for the villagers – and in the evening, the community were invited to a free musical evening, organised and performed by the students. This demonstrated their
organisational skills, teamwork, empathy and a good work ethic. What’s more they really enjoyed it and noted how it made them feel very happy and part of something bigger.
For the category “Giving Something Back” the school was highly commended for its work in the community and, especially, for its long association with Agoro Oyombe. Not only has this offered a fantastic opportunity for our students to visit Kenya and learn, first hand, how their students live, but the collaboration between the schools on the environment and sustainability as well as sharing skills, such as sewing, to help them create drama costumes and mend their uniforms.
Other collaboration included a tree-planting project, in both countries. 5000 British native trees were donated by the Woodland Trust to West Buckland, so WBS parents sponsored trees and the money raised was used to buy suitable trees to plant in Kenya. This project focused on trees for timber, such as eucalyptus, which can be used for building within the school and to make items to sell to raise revenues.