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The 3 Rs - ready, respectful and resilient: A school has put pupils'
character formation before exam results
For 14-year-old Laurentiu Filip, it has taught him how to channel his curiosity. He is
brimming with enthusiasm as he tries to make an etching in his art lesson. Jasmin Smith,
aged 13, thinks it has given her the self-control to persevere with tasks she has been set at
school. Welcome to the Bedford Academy, which has become the UK pioneer for a learning
programme from the United States aimed at building character among pupils.
The scheme, which has been operating in the Kipp (Knowledge is Power Programme)
charter schools in the US – on which Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Education,
partly modelled his free school programme – eschews the "exams factory" approach in an
attempt to give pupils the character they need to battle against the odds academically in
disadvantaged areas.
In the US, educators have drawn up a list of 24 characteristics which schools should
develop in their pupils. Bedford Academy has whittled the list down to a "magnificent
seven" – grit, zest, optimism, social intelligence, gratitude, curiosity and self-control.
"We're looking to develop students' characters," said Emma Orr, possibly the first deputy
headteacher in the country to be given specific responsibility for this list in her job
description. "These are seven attributes that are going to make students successful."
Each pupil is given a passport that their teachers mark if the pupil shows they have used
any of the seven attributes to good effect in lessons. They can work their way into getting
bronze, silver, gold or platinum awards in each area, thereby earning a certificate that can
be presented to potential employees.
A student showing grit, for instance, would have finished a task by persisting in it and
showing resilience when things went wrong. A mark for social intelligence would be
awarded for showing an awareness of the feelings and motives of other pupils, or an ability
to reason with classmates.
The scheme taps into the drive – supported by the Confederation of British Industry and
Labour's Shadow Education Secretary, Tristram Hunt – to create more "rounded and
grounded" young people capable of taking their place in the workforce of the 21st century.
It has already won praise from David Cameron's former policy adviser James
O'Shaughnessy, who said of it: "Kipp schools now provide students with character report
cards as well as reporting on their academic progress. There is nothing woolly about the
education delivered in these schools: it is rigorous schooling informed by hard-won
experience about what young people really need to get on in life."
He cites Martin Luther King as inspiration for the programme, quoting the civil rights
leader's comment: "Intelligence plus character: that is the goal of true education."
Claire Smith, the academy's principal, believes the approach is central to developing
aspirations in a school which serves one of the most disadvantaged areas of the country.
The school is one of the old-style academies set up in a deprived urban area to replace a
failing secondary school. It is sponsored by the Harpur Trust, a local charity, and by
Bedford College. It will have 1,400 students when it is fully operational.

Next September it will take in 11-year-olds for the first time (Bedford has a middle school
system, in which students transfer to upper schools at 13). Twenty-six languages are
spoken in the homes of its pupils, many of whom have Bangladeshi or Pakistani
backgrounds or have come from eastern Europe.
"[The scheme] helps make pupils more successful in life and helps them academically,"
said Ms Orr. "Developing character should be a big part of their learning. It is a simple
enough concept," added Mrs Smith.
The early signs are that the pupils have become more attentive since the programme was
introduced. Ofsted, the education standards watchdog, has already praised the school for
adopting a wider approach to learning. "The academy's promotion of students' personal
development, including their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development, is
excellent," it said.
Jake King, an art teacher at the school, said the approach had not given teachers extra
work. "You soon get used to what you're looking for," he said. "It doesn't add to my
teaching workload. It is thinking about how you can build their skills."
Mrs Smith added: "They are really zesty children here. They have a real spark for life. I
think we've got them to a place where they believe we want to do the best for them."
Emma Orr cited the example of one pupil who, asked to assess how well they were doing,
said: "I'm really good with my self-control but I need to work on my grit and optimism."
That, certainly, is a different way of summing up a pupil's achievement than measuring
their progress in the three Rs.

Comprehension
Answer the following questions.
1.

What is the purpose of the scheme the article refers to?

The scheme the article refers to is aimed at offering academic tools and character-building
experiences to pupils living in disadvantaged areas to help them build a better future for themselves.

2.

What are the ingredients in the list of Beldford Academy?

Bedford Academy has drawn up a list of seven characteristics which can help pupils become more
successful. According to this list, students should be egged on to be more resilient, enthusiastic and
curious; they should also be incited to interact with others, handle themselves properly in stressful
situations, express thankfulness to those who deserve it and have a confident disposition towards
their future.

3.

How is evidence of the attributes shown?

Evidence of the pupil’s attributes is attested in individual certificates showing their notable
achievements in the aforementioned skills. Students obtain these certificates after having their
outstanding results recorded in a personal passport by their teachers; this process eventually leads to
receiving a series of awards, ranging from bronze to platinum.

4.

When could a mark for social intelligence be awarded?

Social intelligence could be rewarded when a pupil shows signs of empathy towards his peers or a

capacity for persuading them with rational arguments.

5.

How is the scheme linked with employability?

Young people who are more “rounded and grounded”, and therefore more aware of themselves and
the world around them, are more likely to be employed and consequently more suitable to becoming
part of the 21st century workforce.

6.

Who do Kipp schools provide pupils with?

Kipp schools rigorously assess their students’ academic performance along with their personal
characteristics as individuals, which are registered in specific “character report cards”.

7.

How are teachers reacting to the scheme introduced?

Teachers responded quite favourably to the scheme introduced, not only for the efficacy of the
programme on the learning of their pupils, but also because applying it did not require any
additional workload, allowing them to achieve better teaching results with little effort.

8.

What is pupils' response?

After the introduction of the programme, pupils started paying more attention in class, and, after
realizing that the scheme had their best interest at heart, they also acquired a better awareness of
their personal growth as individuals.

Summarize the content of the passage in about 150 words.
The Bedford Academy is currently pioneering an American teaching programme which aims at
building not only a robust academic education for the students involved, but also focuses on
effectively training and encouraging the development of essential skills such as being more resilient
and curious, feeling enthusiasm, interacting with others, handling themselves properly in stressful
situations, expressing gratefulness to those who deserve it and having a confident disposition
towards their future. The achievement of these results is assessed by teachers on special “character
report cards” and attested on specific certificates which can later on be presented to potential
employers. This programme was not only well received by the teachers, who were able to achieve
better results with an almost irrelevant extra workload, but also by the students, who, after realizing
the positive impact this programme was having on their development as individuals, started
becoming more conscious of themselves and their potentials.

Composition:
The programme mentioned in the aricle takes inspiration from Martin Luther King.
One of his commentsis: “Intelligence plus character: that is the goal of the true
education.” Discuss your views on the topic by writing a 300-word essay.


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