Peace: for me, it’s the most important value of all.

It includes many others, and it’s the foundation upon which I build my life.

Yesterday, I received a surprise box of flowers. My husband was with me as I opened the box. He asked jokingly if I was sure I wanted to open the box in front of him. I didn’t know who they were from – no idea at all – but I did know they weren’t from anyone I had been up to no good with!

They were from my sister. The card read: ‘To my beautiful sister. This is just a small token of my appreciation in everything you do for me, and how much you care. I don’t know what I would do without you. Love you to bits and see you soon.’

Flowers from sis

When we were little, my sister and I fought like cat and dog. When I was little, I was not at peace within myself and my world was not a peaceful one. I was an unhappy, fearful child. As I grew older, I was not at peace in my teenage years, and my world was not a peaceful one. I was in a miserable, unconfident and needy teenager.

I began to be able to feel more at peace and started to discover that there was a better ‘me’ once I left home, and went ‘up north’ to Scarborough (very far away from home) to train as a teacher. I got my first teaching job in Leeds, made some really good friends and was embraced into some wonderful Yorkshire families. I still love these people and visit after 30 years. At that time, I was finding peace in my life and I was starting to find me. A nice person, a good friend, a passionate teacher. I loved my new Yorkshire family – but circumstances meant I had to come back down south after a my NQT year.

Happily, shortly after I returned, I met the man who would become my husband, providing more love and peace in my life (we still have this love and peace after 32 years together).  I had wonderful work, I was learning to be the best teacher I could be – and I was continuing the slow process of discovering the real ‘me’ inside.

Out of the blue, I met and started to practice Buddhism and things really started to make sense. The very first of ten elements of our Buddhist ‘charter’ is: ‘we shall contribute to peace, culture and education for the happiness and welfare of all humanity based on Buddhist respect for the sanctity of life.’ The whole charter matched what I knew in my heart to be true – and this was a significant turning point in my life.

I really started to make sense of myself. I began to define my purpose, and to start to  work for peace for myself, for others, and for the world. Eventually, I became a head teacher, and worked with my whole school community to create a school culture based on positive human values. We had the privilege of working with Dr. Neil Hawkes, the founder of Values-based Education and we transformed our school into a happy, peaceful environment for all. I was so proud when our work as a community was recognised by becoming a ‘Values-based Quality Mark School’ and a ‘Beacon Peaceful School’.

I believe peace is in all of our hearts, but we have to dig deep to find it through the negatives and challenges in life, and through other people’s perceptions of us and in our past and current environments.

I left headship to work harder in the field of Values and Peace Education. I became a professional coach and feel huge privilege in working deeply with wonderful people – ultimately searching for more peace and happiness in their lives.

I also work with closely with Neil and the VbE team, helping schools in this country and overseas focus on positive values, and ultimately become happy, peaceful places of learning for adults and children. As a community, when we focus on a value such as ‘love’, we are building peace in ourselves and in our environment. The same goes for other values such as kindness, courage, compassion, respect, equality, consideration, unity, friendship and so many others.

So, the flowers are a beautiful symbol of the wonderful, loving, caring and peaceful relationship I now have with my amazing sister – and also with my parents. But most of all – with myself.

Thank you to everyone in my life who’s helped me to discover my strong, happy, peaceful self thus far, and I wish you peace and happiness in your journey through life.

Where Have All The Values Gone?

Everyone’s talking about them. VALUES!       Values heart

It seems that the world is just waking up to the fact that when something is going wrong, there is a lack of values.

When did they disappear?

They didn’t. We simply stopped valuing values.

Not everyone of course. But a lot of people have simply forgotten to notice them.

I believe that it’s because our lives are moving so fast! We live in an age of unprecedented accelerated change of three crucial factors (technological advances, globalisation and climate change). Live is actually moving faster than we can keep up. For the first time in human history!

We have to slow it down. WE have to slow down. We have to breath and be brave enough to leap off the roller-coaster which has picked us up and whisked us off on the journey of life.

When we return to our values, we see what’s truly important in life. Love, kindness, honesty, tolerance, respect, empathy, courage, integrity, determination, confidence – and many others.

Adults need to re-focus on positive human values because our children are growing up in a world of anti-values. Materialism, greed, selfishness, anger, anxiety, jealousy, ignorance, prejudice – to name but a few. I am a professional coach of young people; I see their pain and angst like never before. Social media has a lot to answer for, as does our school exam system. Many parents are at a loss as to how to help their children. But what I notice, more often than not, is the lack of values.

There are so many reasons for this. We could blame the political systems and leaders. We could blame the world of big business. We could blame the rapid rate of change of technology. We could blame our ‘have-it-all’ culture.

Blaming won’t help. We have to take the positive path, wake up to what’s happening and return to what we know is right. Our children need us to be ethical, values-driven role models. They need to be taught explicitly about shared, positive human values and we must encourage them to live the in values in their lives. Our children and young people need to be given the chances to form genuine, warm, real-life relationships. To be self-aware and emotionally intelligent. To have a sense of moral and social justice. And to be resilient so they cope with the challenges that will come at them. These young people are the leaders of the future. They are in our schools and we are teaching them. More than ever, the world needs values-driven, ethical, courageous leaders.

I have the immense privilege of having been the headteacher of a ‘values-based’ school. Together, we transformed our school – by focusing in a very specific way on values. Our community chose which values were important to them and we taught our children how to live the values. There is an important difference between ‘values-education’ and ‘values-based education’. All schools teach values nowadays. British Values (whatever that means) and many teach other values. But real transformation comes when values are at the very heart of the school and the community. Where everyone takes responsibility as a role model very seriously, and when values underpin every aspect of school life. It then filters into the homes and deeper into the community. This is happening all over our country and it’s a joy to see. It needs to happen all over the world.

Values-based schools are whole school communities of wellbeing. Every member of staff feels valued and nurtured in a culture of trust and a shared vision for everyone to be the best they can be. If this sounds idealistic and impossible, I can take you to many schools in this country who would welcome you with open arms and invite you to experience how working in a values-based school really feels.  It really can be done.

By Sue Webb   @Lot_Ed  @ vbezone #vbezone

New Staff Induction: Values Scoping

Wow Hannah…just wonderful to read this. Feel so incredibly privileged and excited to be a part of your journey. The future is values-driven and bright at Aureus!

The Hopeful Headteacher

Wow! What a week? 5 full days of New Staff Induction and Year 6 Transition Evening.

It has been a whirlwind – a highly-productive and intense week but we have achieved so much already. The Aureus team have bonded, forging strong relationships and starting some brilliant collaborations.  The feedback after each session and at the end of the week was overwhelming positive. Staff feel valued and know that their voice has been heard in the co-designing process of our school.

Our vision is shared. Our values are aligned. Our mission is clear.

Together we will nurture the hearts and the minds of the Aureus Community. Together we will grow, learn and flourish as a team.

The values-scoping day was vital in achieving this. It was important to have an external objective voice, Sue Webb, facilitate for us so that it was crowd-sourced and shared, not me imposing my values…

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