In September 2017, Walton launched the ‘Them and Us’ initiative as part of its pastoral programme. Run in partnership with PiXL – a not-for-profit partnership sharing best practice across schools – Walton is one of only 10 secondary schools to be piloting the scheme.

The ‘Them and Us’ project is an exciting new initiative focused on changing the culture of communities. The programme deals with issues under three key principles:

  • Living without harming others
  • Doing acts of kindness
  • Showing respect for others

It is about helping young people understand the importance of demonstrating these three principles not just to those people who are like them but to people who are not like them.

Jess Leonard, Assistant Principle for personal development, behaviour and welfare (PDBW), explains how the project is thriving in the Walton classroom and beyond.

“Since the whole academy launch date back in September 2017, ‘Them and Us’ has roared its way through the academy in many different guises. As an academy we felt strongly from when the project was first presented, that the principles behind ‘Them and Us’ are parallel to our core values, mission statement and character education. We are firm believers at Walton in developing and moulding the whole student, preparing them completely for what lies beyond year 13 and we felt straight away that this project would allow us to broaden our character education further, whilst continuing to uphold a culture and ethos of high expectations for all. Emphasising further the sense of being one whole Walton team.

“We have already seen success and impact from delivering the project in tutor time and life skills days as part of our regular curriculum. Students are exposed to the principles of ‘Them and Us’ at least once a week across the whole academy through using the bespoke resources and assemblies that have been written. It is being driven in tutor time by the tutors, but more importantly by the students. The discussion and group work that has taken place has really allowed students to explore the principles in depth, with classes making agreements that actually mean something to them.

“As an academy we have a very strong culture and ethos and our pastoral care and behaviour is outstanding but the ‘Them and Us’ project is allowing us to move towards exceptional. Last half term the behaviour points reduced in every year group, mentor staff physically noticed a reduction in the number of friendship issues and fall outs they dealt with. Within the feedback we have received from tutors it is clear that they feel that the activities allow them to tackle some really relevant and common issues in a way that is resonating with the students. Students are keen to continue their discussions and debates even into unstructured time.

“In a recent survey over 87% of students ‘agreed’ that ‘Them and Us’ had made them make a change, made them think about a situation in different way, and realise just how powerful their choices can be. Students also felt that ‘Them and Us’ days in tutor time were constructive and an extension of the life skills curriculum that is currently in place. ‘Them and Us’ at Walton is not just a set of resources – it is feeding into our culture and allowing students to realise just how their decisions and choices have an impact on the wider academy and community. We have just started to explore our second principle and already there is a sense that ‘Them and Us’ is now embedded within the Walton way.”