CHARACTER is more important than how good you are at any subject, was the message from Forres Academy head teacher Carol Stuart as she addressed pupils, staff and parents at the school's annual prize-giving ceremony.
Mrs Stuart said she hoped the school had prepared pupils for the “roller coaster of life” and that young people leaving the academy will head into the next stage of their life with confidence.
“There will come a time when you no longer have to sit exams, but I hope you will always try to be the best person you can,” she said. “Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life.
“There will be high points, long struggles to the top to meet your goals. Remember our values and aspire to be respectful, ambitious, confident, resilient and caring.”
Mrs Stuart also hailed a year of “major successes” for the school as she praised pupils and staff for their individual and team efforts.
“This has been a year where we have truly reached out and benefited from our partnership working,” she added. “And a year where we have come together to really crystallise what is most important to us all as a school community.
“During this year we have been reviewing our values, looking at what is most important to us as a community and how we demonstrate these values in our everyday practice. In consultation with our parents, pupils and staff we were pleased to see much in common in terms of what people thought were important.
“Ambition, respect, resilience, caring and confidence are our five core values. I truly believe they reflect that crucial balance we need in this ever-changing society. The frenetic pace at which we lead our lives these days, time for such reflection on what our core values and beliefs are, is sadly all too easily forgotten and it is our job to make sure that does not happen.
“Our school vision has also been updated or refreshed and indeed simplified. Gone is the wordy statement which many of our staff and young people found difficult to relate to.
“So put quite simply ‘Forres Academy is a community where everyone is valued, respected, encouraged and inspired’.
“Two key words here that I believe are often overlooked, ‘community’ and ‘everyone’, both words are part of this short statement and it is so reassuring for me that our community felt that these needed to be emphasised in our new vision.
“I also believe this is a reflection of the hard work across the last two years where we have done much work on Rights Respecting School and promoting positive relationships.
“Not only do our values emphasise achievement and attainment but they also recognise that without strong positive, nurturing approaches to our own health and wellbeing, success is not possible.
“Finally, I believe to gain any award there is always a team of people that make it happen including our teachers, teacher volunteers, parents, senior students, our active schools co-ordinator and our community partners who provide all the support and encouragement that is needed to reach those goals whether they be individual, team or whole school.
“However, it also needs someone or a group of people to push things forward and lead the team. We have staff, students and partners only too willing to take on these key leadership roles.”
Mrs Stuart said at Forres Academy they passionately believed that a good education is about providing opportunities for each student to develop into their own person. “We are proud of the balance we strike between academic excellence and personal development.
“We passionately believe that a good education is about providing opportunities for each student to develop into their own person.
“Yes we want every student to achieve the academic results which will enable them to go on to pursue successful careers. However, we also focus on the development of the individual, at a deeper level than any string of grades can ever reflect. After all, there are no As for determination, integrity, responsibility, kindness, common sense or a positive attitude to life!
“Wide-ranging extra-curricular activities in sport, outdoor pursuits and the performing arts, combined with a commitment to helping the local community, we focus on developing self-esteem, creativity, personal insight and an appreciation of the infinite possibilities life has to offer.
“The development of effective learning habits does not just happen in the classroom.
“We are extremely proud of all of our young people who have either received awards for their valuable work or have contributed to the school, local and international community.
“So we continue to aim high – identify the strengths of our pupils and build on them, whatever that strength may be.”