The quote attributed to the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, ‘Character is destiny’, implies that destiny is not a predetermined outside force, but that our future is determined by our own inner character.

If this is true, then helping children develop all the different elements within themselves that define their characters is crucial and as vital as the education of knowledge.  

At Channing we work hard to ensure that we prepare our pupils for life after school and ready for all the triumphs and challenges they might encounter - and we really do start that when they are four years old!

We asked ourselves how we could formalise this ‘character education’, essentially teaching our pupils the values or virtues that they will use every day to make decisions in their lives. 

This is much more demanding than ‘just’ imparting knowledge as so much of it cannot be learned by rote but needs to be embedded within an individual.

We drew on our Unitarian ethos of kindness, tolerance, respect and inclusivity, and the Channing Promise that underpins everything that we do, to make sure that what we introduced complemented our values and approach.

Ham & High: Ms Dina Hamalis believes building character in pupils is vitalMs Dina Hamalis believes building character in pupils is vital (Image: Channing School)

We felt that our pupils would benefit from being able to refer to a visible set of defined character traits, which we could weave through every aspect of their educational experience.

Pupils and staff were invited to share their ideas; it was pleasing to see there was lots of overlap and we all had similar thoughts about what makes a Channing girl and what we want a Channing girl to be like. We agreed that the Channing characters should be inspired by British woodland animals and we commissioned a talented cartoonist to design them.

  • Resilience Robin has the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties and to spring back. 
  • Perseverance Red Squirrel is persistent despite difficulty or delay in achieving success. 
  • Empathy Rabbit has the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. 
  • Responsibility Badger has an obligation to do something. 
  • Bravery Mole is courageous. 
  • Independence Tawny Owl thinks and acts for herself.
  • Respectfulness Hedgehog has due regard for the feelings, wishes, or rights of others. 
  • Curiosity Fox has a strong desire to know and learn things. 

The school community has enthusiastically embraced character education.

The rollout has included: focused assemblies for pupils; talks to parents; posters displayed all around the school; staff recognising when pupils demonstrate character traits and rewarding them with stickers and certificates. 

This week, following on from World Book Day, we launched a set of printed books telling the story of each character.  Check out our social media channels to hear the stories being read aloud. 

We think Heraclitus would be impressed!

  • Ms Dina Hamalis is head of Channing Junior School.