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For children to thrive, we need to make sure that academic ability, social skills and emotional intelligence are aligned.
Jill Wilson, Headteacher at The Gleddings Preparatory School, Halifax

PASS: Helping children to take the right path to good choices

From the time children start with us at the age of three, we teach them that life is about choices, and that making good choices leads to good consequences, such as recognition, reward and praise.

On the odd occasion that children decide to express their naughtier side, we take the opportunity to explain that they made a poor decision and that they are capable of choosing differently next time.

The reason we take this approach is that good judgement is one of several key learning dispositions that children will come to count on as they grow up (others are included in the table below). After all, by 2030 or so, when our pupils enter the workplace, many of the jobs that exist now will be obsolete and new ones will have sprung up. Success in the real world will depend on adaptable and transferable skills.

For children to thrive, we need to make sure that academic ability, social skills and emotional intelligence are aligned. Using PASS fits with this philosophy and keeps us in the know about our pupils’ attitudes to themselves and to learning. It also ensures that any self-esteem issues are quickly picked up, particularly amongst the 20% of our cohort who have special educational needs.

Our PASS scores are consistently positive – PASS uses a traffic light system and the vast majority of our children score in the green band across all nine of the areas explored – but this is not something we take for granted.

We’ve introduced a number of strategies across the school designed to support our focus on developing children’s happiness, resilience and confidence to persevere. These include visual prompts such as ‘Effort Ladders’ which children can climb up as they progress. We even have a ‘Perseverance Person of the Week’ in each classroom to underline that a good attitude, one where you keep going and give a little extra to be the best you can be, is valued and valuable.

It’s a message we reinforce at parents’ evenings too, as education is more than just a race through the reading scheme. Sharing PASS results on these occasions means parents can really appreciate what underpins the best learning. It helps us present a holistic profile of individual children so we can work with parents to identify and celebrate the positive elements of their child’s progress.

Statistics suggest that 1 in 10 children between 5 and 16 years of age, or 3 in every classroom, have a diagnosable mental health problem. Too much screen time can negatively affect children too, yet it is often hard for them to escape the constant media and social pressures from the technology gadgets that surround them. Although ours is a relatively small school, we employ a counsellor two days a week so that the children have somewhere they can go to talk about anything that is concerning them, from family and friendship situations to cyber bullying and eating disorders.

We keep wellbeing at the heart of what we do, and this clearly reflects on our children’s academic ability. In an area served by selective grammar schools, a high percentage of our children are offered places. There is certainly a growing need for schools to support both the educational and pastoral needs of their pupils. With PASS, we have a valuable tool to help us ensure children are equipped with the academic and emotional skills they need to make advantageous choices as they journey into the future.

The Gleddings was named The Sunday Times Prep School of the Year in 2017