Banbury school joins pioneering scheme

Skillforce event at St. Mary's School, Banbury. Instructor, Chris Peacock coaches the pupils through the 'Toxic Trek' task. NNL-160927-164137009

Skillforce event at St. Mary's School, Banbury. Instructor, Chris Peacock coaches the pupils through the 'Toxic Trek' task. NNL-160927-164137009

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A Banbury school is the first primary in Oxfordshire to sign up to a new character education scheme that aims to boost pupils’ resilience and problem solving skills.

St Mary’s Church of England Primary School, on Southam Road, has signed up to the SkillForce Character Award, which is being trialled this academic year at 36 primary and secondary schools across the country, involving 950 pupils aged five to 14.

Skillforce event at St. Mary's School, Banbury. Instructor, Chris Peacock coaches the pupils through the 'Toxic Trek' task. NNL-160927-163951009

Skillforce event at St. Mary's School, Banbury. Instructor, Chris Peacock coaches the pupils through the 'Toxic Trek' task. NNL-160927-163951009

Delivered by instructors from the national education charity SkillForce, 27 Year Five pupils aged nine and 10 from St Mary’s are part of the year-long pilot.

The pupils will complete practical and team-based activities and challenges, inside and outside of the classroom, to develop resilience, self control, compassion, courage, confidence, leadership, teamwork and problem solving skills.

Supported by Standard Life, the pilot scheme is run at St Mary’s one afternoon a week throughout the current academic year.

It draws on the knowledge, skills and expertise of predominantly former service personnel who make up SkillForce and covers five themes: personal development, relationships, working, community and environment.

Victoria Woods, headteacher at the school, said: “We are really pleased to be working with SkillForce this year. The character award scheme seemed an obvious enhancement of our curriculum and an opportunity to build on our already successful work developing our school values over the last year.”

The reaction to the scheme by the pupils has also been positive with changes in the children’s attitudes and problem solving skills becoming apparent after just a few weeks into the project.

Ms Woods said: “Our Year Five class are loving their new lessons and we can already see that they are listening and relating to each other more positively both inside and outside the classroom.

“We hope that by the end of the year we will be able to see the benefit of the scheme not only in their personal relationships and wellbeing, but also through increased confidence and aspiration to attain even higher in their class work.”

The new pilot award has been developed with curriculum specialists, schools, the OCR awarding body and the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues at the University of Birmingham.

Feedback from schools, parents and children will be gathered during the pilot.