• Handpicked Harrogate

Pioneering the way

Pioneering pupils at Brackenfield School have shaped the future ethos of the school, identifying and creating a set of core values to underpin its powerful mission and overall vision.

A thoroughly democratic process ensued at the Harrogate-based school, with each and every pupil’s voice being heard from Reception up to Year 6. The children had the invaluable opportunity to share and discuss their views and desires, highlighting what the school means to them and what they value about Brackenfield.

To provoke thought, Mr Masterson, the school’s Headmaster, used his expertise to collate a vast list of the many school values that he has come across throughout his extensive career in education, and shared them with the school community for discussion and deliberation.

Firstly, the children worked together in their classes to understand what each of the values meant, before meticulously considering the merit of each and its priority to them as individuals and the school. Once a shortlist was drawn, the values went to vote.

Leading the poll and first making it into the final six was the value of Kindness, which received significantly more votes than any other value. Honesty was next ahead of Respect; also, clear winners. The final three values involved substantial discussion, debate and democracy. The children felt Perseverance was important with one Year 1 pupil stating “we should never give up”. Children then separated confidence from arrogance, concluding with a Year 6 child commenting that “Confidence was important to show the best of yourself”. The most interesting point to make it into the six core values was Initiative, as a Year 4 child said “you need to have initiative to solve problems” and a Reception pupil added, “Mummy and Daddy can’t always tell you what to do.”

Headmaster Joe Masterson commented, “Here at Brackenfield School we champion pupil’s voices, which is why it was important to involve them heavily in this decisive process to conclude our overall mission and vision as a school. While it is evident that we are a very warm, friendly, family-based school, with a focus on Curriculum & Learning, Activities, Outdoor Education and Community, it was important to identify how we would act and behave with each other and through our learning in these four key areas.

“Our actions, behaviours and attitudes are underpinned by the core values of Kindness, Honesty, Respect, Confidence, Initiative, and Perseverance. As a result, children at Brackenfield School are not only academically able, they are also confident and caring individuals who become proud ambassadors for their school and their community.”

Founded in 1977, Brackenfield has been Harrogate’s Prep school for over 40 years, long enough for the school to witness the circle of life. Brackenfield School is now welcoming parents who were once pupils there themselves. Margie Sutcliffe, the founding Head, established a family ethos at the school that now lives on in perpetuity. More than anything else, children are happy and cared for; Brackenfield School is an extended family.