Newsletter Four

Newsletter 24, Spring 2005


Ethos is here to stay

The Scottish Executive Education Department has said that it will not fund the Ethos Network beyond July 2005, because ethos is now firmly on the educational agenda: "SEED considers that a positive school ethos must be regarded as integral to effective teaching and the development of children who are confident individuals, successful learners and effective contributors. School ethos is now referred to in a wide range of policies and initiatives. SEED feels this is in part due to the success of the SSEN and the commitment of its staff".

This, therefore, is the last Ethos Network Newsletter, which may well be a disappointment to the thousands of Network members who have contributed to its events and publications. David May, Head Teacher of Craigie High School in Dundee, wrote to tell us of his feelings on hearing the news: "The conferences, newsletters and case studies organised and produced by the Network have made a considerable difference to not only raising the importance of ethos in schools but also to what we do. The SSEN has identified and promoted good practice, and enabled us to pick up ideas and to adopt and customise them to our needs. My hope is that, despite the demise of the SSEN, the importance of school ethos will not be lessened".

There is evidence to suggest that David's wish may be fulfilled. At all levels, from the Executive through HMIE to Local Authorities and individual schools, ethos is consistently mentioned in mission statements and aims. But how often do we think about what it really means? The word is over two thousand years old. Aristotle saw "ethos" as being one of three forms of rhetoric. He said that "logos" is an appeal based on logic, "pathos" is an appeal based on the emotions and "ethos" is an appeal based on the moral character of the speaker.

The scientific, technical and mathematical components of the curriculum mean that schools are strong on "logos". In teaching art, literature or history we may use "pathos"; but when we promote inclusion, treat children and colleagues respectfully and tackle problems calmly we demonstrate the "ethos" which we hope our pupils will adopt in their adult lives.

Even without a Network dedicated to it, ethos will not go away. It is central to what we as educators and parents should do. The real legacy of the Ethos Network lies not in what schools might say about their ethos but in the way that it is experienced by pupils, parents and staff members. Work to improve this experience can and must continue. It is up to all of us who have been part of the SSEN during the last ten years to make sure that this happens.

Andrew Mellor

Andrew Mellor
Manager of the SSEN



This newsletter is edited by Kate Betney. Produced by MALTS.

Pupils from Central Primary School
Pupils from Central Primary School, Inverness at the SSEN/ABN joint conference in the Highlands, October 2000.



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