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East Devon Secondary Schools Partnership

In April 2015 the East Devon Secondary School Partnership, were awarded significant grant funding by The Department for Education to deliver a collaborative Character Education Project across five secondary schools (Axe Valley Community College, Clyst Vale Community College, The King’s School, Honiton Community College, Sidmouth College).


Project Overview:

  1. A primary aim was to introduce a Building Character Programme (BCP) at each school, which focused on Resilience, Community, Leadership and Curiosity. Students in Years 12 and 10 received classroom-based input (bespoke to each school) on Character Education.  A cross-partnership reward system underpinned the programme, with students logging their achievements under each characteristic, aiming to achieve Bronze, Silver and Gold awards.   


Additional activities that promoted the development of core character traits were also built into the programme. For example:


  • All schools offered staff training in twilight and in service professional development sessions on Resilience, designed to help them develop their own resilience.
  • All five schools worked in partnership with a large local landowner (Clinton Devon Estates) to develop curriculum-based fieldwork opportunities around the River Otter regeneration project to help students to develop their Curiosity.
  • The creation of East Devon 6th Sports teams in Rugby, Football and Netball ensured that all students were able to access high level sport in the 6th Form and develop leadership and character skills.


  1. We also encouraged staff to think about how to teach Character Education through lessons by delivering “Building Learning Power” training across the partnership. The initial training was delivered by an external practitioner, and was followed up with a day of sharing good practice and lessons learned from across the partnership. 


In addition, a number of staff participated in Action Research projects supported by The University of Exeter focussing on issues related to Character Education in their classrooms.



  1. The project placed a significant focus on Emotional Health and Well Being and aimed to improve outcomes for learners by providing training for staff and students in this area. The Project board commissioned The University of Exeter to deliver a bespoke “Living Life to the Full” package (developed by psychologists from the University of Glasgow).  All staff participated in an awareness session, and key staff and 6th formers at each school received in-depth training in delivering the lesson materials.  An eight week programme was delivered at each school.


In addition, the project funded “Mindfulness Practitioner” training for interested staff.  These staff members then cascaded training to other staff, and delivered student mindfulness sessions in schools, ensuring future sustainability in this area.


  1. A key strand of the project was to engage more learners in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects at A- Level and encourage greater movement into Higher Education STEM courses. STEM was chosen as an area of focus due to the considerable opportunities that exist for students of all abilities in the South West to enter a STEM related career.  The Project worked closely with both Clinton Devon Estates (to develop meaningful local field work opportunities in STEM-related areas) and the University of Exeter (co-ordinating a day for year 10 girls to look at STEM careers). Each School appointed a STEM lead who was able to share and develop good practice with other colleagues from across the five partner schools.


  1. The project was committed to reducing the attainment gap for disadvantaged learners, and developed a coaching programme for schools to use with external volunteers. Coaching training was offered to Learning Support Assistants, to provide schools with ‘in-house’ additional capability in this area. 



  1. The project was evaluated by The University of Exeter and The Jurassic Coast Teaching Schools Alliance who provided an independent, research-led evaluation of the project.

A copy of the full evaluation document can be downloaded here


For further information please contact Kevin Moran or Fiona Hogan on 01404 812982.


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