Robert Teague: 'Why the education at our Croydon school is about more than exam results'
OPINION: Private boys' school The Cedars will be the first high school in the country based on the ethos of Catholic organisation Opus Dei when it opens in September. Head teacher Robert Teague explains why education is about more than just exam results.
IT IS said that education is what remains after you've forgotten everything you learned at school.
Exam results do not tell the whole story: bad results usually signal problems, but good results can conceal what's missing from an education.
Parents need to look beyond the league tables and ask: will this school help develop my daughter or son as a person? Does the school have a long-term vision for my child, preparing them for life?
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The upsurge of interest in "character education" has accelerated since the riots in the summer of 2011, which affected Croydon so badly.
Character education is not about cold showers and early-morning runs; it's about helping children to grow into happy and fulfilled young men and women with qualities of greatness that will stand them in good stead wherever they go and whatever they do.
That's why the launch of the Jubilee Centre for Character and Values last year was a major advance. And the recent setting-up of two schools run by the PACT Educational Trust is a further hopeful sign.
The Cedars School in Croydon, along with its sister school for girls, The Laurels in Clapham, put character formation at the heart of what they do. They are based on a tried-and-tested model that is highly successful abroad and produces excellent results at the trust's existing schools, including Oakwood in Purley.
The great thing about educating for character is that it helps children in every aspect of their lives. It doesn't see good character as an alternative to good exam results. It says – if you get character right, children will do their best and achieve their potential. As Martin Luther King put it, education is about "intelligence plus character".
At The Cedars, every child will have a tutor with whom she or he meets one-to-one every fortnight. The tutor stays in close contact with home so that parents and school work together to help each child on their journey to greatness of character.
Our long-term vision is of young men who always give their best, who have a wide range of interests and a wide circle of friends. They are at ease in any surrounding because they are at ease within themselves. They have the good sense and integrity to know when to make a stand, and the courage to follow it through. They learn that the secret of true happiness lies in self-giving love and cheerful service to others.
This vision is inspired by St Josemaría Escrivá, the founder of Opus Dei, a Catholic organisation that has been supported by every pope since its foundation in 1928.
The Cedars has a Catholic ethos and is fully supported by Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark. Open to all faiths, it wants to help young people think critically and to question. Our students perform well at exams. But their long-term success lies in becoming fulfilled, loving human beings. Even if everything else is forgotten or superseded, that's the part of their education that remains.