Personal and Character Development

Living life in all its fullness

Contributing to personal and character development is a significant part of our curriculum and a lifelong journey, marked by a myriad of experiences that shape who we are and who we aspire to become. These experiences come in various forms, from triumphs to challenges, from moments of joy to instances of adversity. Each encounter leaves an indelible mark on our character, fostering growth, resilience, and self-awareness.

Indeed, our Personal development programme is a cornerstone in helping us deliver our vision of encouraging children to grow healthy bodies, loving hearts and inquisitive minds.

One significant aspect of personal and character development lies in embracing new opportunities and stepping out of one's comfort zone. Whether it's taking up a new hobby, pursuing further education, or venturing into unfamiliar territory, every leap into the unknown presents a chance for learning and self-discovery. Our Personal Development programme outlining the opportunities we offer our children can be downloaded using the link at the foot of this page.

Growing healthy bodies

Our dedication to physical wellness and a constructive outlook on leading an active life is vital for children to understand that sustaining a healthy body not only requires consistent exercise, a nutritious diet, sufficient rest but also attention to our own mental, emotional and spiritual health.

This involves nurturing positive self-perception, self-awareness, self-discipline and healthy relationships and connections with others as well as appreciating the importance of the less tangible aspects of life such as spirituality, awe and wonder and how music and the arts can add value to the rich tapestry of life.

Loving hearts

We recognise through our theologically rooted Christian vision that a loving heart is a beacon of hope in a world often overshadowed by darkness. It radiates warmth and light, offering solace to the weary and strength to the downtrodden. In times of turmoil and strife, it is the loving heart that whispers words of comfort, gently guiding others towards healing and reconciliation. 

Consequently, our goal is to nurture the child to become courageous advocates, positively impacting the world through acts of kindness, respect, hope, ambition, etiquette, empathy, compassion, sound decision-making, advocacy against injustice, and spiritual enlightenment. This includes the ability to forgive both others and themselves and build bridges to seek a more peaceful harmonious world.

Inquisitive minds

Developing an inquisitive mind is a journey that leads to a deeper understanding of the world and oneself. It involves cultivating curiosity, asking questions, seeking answers, and embracing the unknown. 

Our curriculum and teaching approach is designed to nurture confident, self-reliant learners, equipped with resilience, resourcefulness, critical thinking, adaptability, problem-solving, and adeptness at overcoming obstacles. 

We strive for them to embrace flexibility in their viewpoints, remain self-aware throughout their learning journey, and actively refine their learning strategies whilst cultivating a thirst for knowledge, wisdom, and the essential cultural capital required to flourish and thrive in a rapidly evolving world.

Mental health and well-being

Mental health lays the groundwork for emotional resilience and stability because when children possess a strong sense of mental well-being, they are better equipped to navigate the challenges and stressors inherent in daily life. This resilience acts as a buffer against the adverse effects of stress, allowing them to bounce back from setbacks and persevere through difficulties with greater ease.

Moreover, mental health significantly influences cognitive functioning and academic performance. A mind free from the shackles of anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues is better able to focus, concentrate, and engage in learning activities. This, in turn, enhances academic achievement and fosters a love for lifelong learning and enables children to flourish and thrive.

   Promoting Positive Mental Health

Healthy Habits

Both parents and the school play an important role in teaching and modelling the following habits and behaviours that can improve mental health and well-being. These include telling yourself something positive every day, living in the moment rather than focusing on what might happen or has happened, regular exercise and fresh air (every day), a balanced diet and drink sufficient fresh water each day, getting into the habit of talking and opening up to others, doing something for someone else each day (an act of kindness), taking a hobby and a wide variety of interest.  


Our curriculum and ethos is a significant factor in promoting positive mental well-being. Curricular opportunities are designed to build resilience, self-awareness, good physical health, self-help strategies, developing positive attitudes, appreciation, gratitude, reflection, self-help, the ability to put things into perspective and a growth mind-set. This is achieved through our Relationships, Sex and Health Education programme. Planned activities help children to value stillness and silence, the intangible, music, the arts, appreciation, gratitude, a sense awe and wonder and dealing with negative thinking traps. Class teachers also provide pastoral. Pastoral support provides a listening ear to share worries as well as providing information, advice and guidance to children.

The role of adults

Our holistic approach to personal development and positive mental well-being emphasises fostering a deep respect for the child, environment, oneself, and others.  This encourages children to cultivate a strong sense of self-respect, promoting a positive self-image whilst fostering a sense of empathy and understanding within the learning community. The role of adults in our school is to be respectful at all times, understand and empathise with the child's perspective, listen attentively, and appreciate accomplishments based on their starting points rather than superficial factors.  Adults do not define children by their appearance, background or behaviour and do not invade children’s personal or emotional space without being invited. For example, a respectful adult is more interested in the fact a person is able to dress themselves than making a judgement on what they are wearing.

Zones of Regulation

This is a programme designed to foster self-regulation and emotional control which helps children gain skills in the area of self-regulation. 



This is where we teach the child to score their emotional response to a past or future event e.g. 1-5 to help them put events into perspective and then talk through strategies to help them change the score so it is perceived less stressful.


Emotional coaching

An emotional literacy intervention which helps identify feelings, recognise responses, and offers appropriate ways to manage feelings & improve confidence. This involves Naming and explaining emotions and their reasons e.g. ‘Look, you are getting hot and sweaty, this means you are feeling worried’.


Circles of Trust

This is a small group activity led by an adult that builds trust. The group is known as 'The Circle of Trust'. The exercise involves a group of people and aims to encourage co-ordination, co-operation, risk taking and trust e.g. children may work in pairs where one is blindfolded and the other must guide them round a room or to a destination or where children in a circle hold hands taking turns to lean in and out of the circle to test the trust and support of others.

Circle Time

Structured and safe group activities where the group learn early debating skills around motivational topics or around topics they have been asked to explore.

Talk Groups (Bubble Groups)

Talk Groups are facilitated by an adult to discuss issues and help children see different perspectives, challenge negative thoughts, find solutions and share strategies.


Friendship Buddies

Opportunities to support younger children at lunchtime where he can be supported to help them organise games and negotiate friendships in using what he has learnt to mediate younger peers. Peer to peer support offers the child dedicated time to talk with another child. This can be an older child. Similar to Talk Groups, it can help children see different perspectives, find solutions and share strategies.


Role play 

Opportunities to role play different scenarios with peers and adults and talk about each character and the feelings they may experience.


Therapeutic and social stories

The use of therapeutic or social stories which touch upon different scenarios and leaves open discussions around feelings of the characters for example.

Mindfulness and Yoga

One of the most common benefits of practicing mindfulness is the decrease in stress experienced in people. It is also believed to improve focus, resilience and memory.

Mental rehearsal/guided imagery.

This is where an adult helps a child to imagine themselves successfully completing something that they fear or are anxious about. They are guided to rehearse that event mentally or in their minds eye and are encouraged to imagine how they would feel when they successfully complete the task/event.


Sensory activities/breaks 

Access to sensory stimulation e.g. sensory materials/box, sensory circuits, therapy putty, (Chewy tubes for those who have a need to put things in their mouth). Some children feel the need for containment (to be covered). Sensory deprivation can lead to physical needs not being met which can lead to anxiety.

Sensory gym 

Daily access to a circuit of activities designed to meet a child’s sensory needs. Includes stretching, rolling, hanging, encouragement to walk across different textures and support when negotiating steps and stairs. Physical activity like this can reduce anxiety levels.


3 Step approach to dealing with a fear

Step 1: Talk through each step of scenario; what will happen first, what will happen next and the possible positive outcomes. 

Step 2: Challenge negative thoughts indirectly through questioning. Instead of reassuring the young person that nothing bad will happen, ask them things like what has happened in this situation before, what would you like to happen etc.

Step 3 : help the young person think through what they learned about their fears and about themselves. Did their fears come to true? Did they cope? Help the young person rate their anxiety on a scale of 1-5 or 1-10.

Personal Development Opportunities

To help us deliver these core aims, we offer a broad range of curricular experiences and opportunities including: 

You can view some of the experiences we offer our children through our personal development programme on our Facebook page

Cultural Capital

Cultural Capital is the essential knowledge pupils need to broaden their options, choices and aspirations so that they can lead happy, fulfilling and rewarding lives. This involves introducing them to the best that has been thought and said to help engender an appreciation of human creativity and achievement.


We refer to this as being worldly wise. We have developed a strategy for helping our children become worldly wise. This includes:










Social Development


This aspect of the curriculum enables children to develop and use a range of social skills. It also allows children to appreciate diverse viewpoints, respect the views and beliefs of others. participate, volunteer and cooperate and resolve conflict.


Social skills are learnt and taught. This means children learn social skills in context from the people around them and are taught where there are gaps in their skills or understanding. Adults in the school have a crucial role in modelling the social skills we wish our children to acquire.


Moral Development


Moral development is the opportunity for children to learn what is right and wrong, to respect the law; understand consequences; investigate moral and ethical issues and offer reasoned views.


This is achieved in a number of ways including discussion and debate, specific lessons and assembly time. Children learn from the outset right from wrong, making good choices and that there are school rules and ways to behave. They learn the reason for rules and how they benefit the community to function effectively. 


We also use stories and real life examples to teach children the difference between right and wrong. Stories are used both whole school assembly time and class time. For example, assembly themes this year that have contributed to moral development include; what can we learn from Noah, the story of Adam and Eve, Moses and the 10 commandments, honesty and dishonesty, personal responsibility, dealing with temptation and moral dilemmas.


Aesop's fables are also used as part of our Collective Worship and Assembly themes that can reinforce and support moral development.

Spiritual Development

Spiritual Development involves providing children with the opportunity to appreciate the non-materialistic aspects of human nature, exploring beliefs and values, experiencing feelings including awe and wonder; learning about oneself, others and the surrounding world; developing imagination and creativity and reflecting on experiences.


This can be achieved through the curriculum, between lessons and specific activities. 

Spiritual awareness is also about appreciating nature and recognising the importance of caring for our environment for the benefit of others. We are currently working with Finchingfield Parish Council to set up a Forest School so that our learners can learn outdoors and value nature and the awe and wonder it offers.

Creating a stimulating and thought-provoking environment is a key aspect to our Spiritual Development programme. This is refelected in our displays that encourage children to ask questions.

Spirituality in a Church of England context

Spiritual development is not a separate standalone issue for church schools. It is intrinsic  in everything that we do and everywhere within the school. Spirituality enables our children to be happy, flourish, succeed and live life to its fullest. It enables humankind to be fascinated, creative, reflective and consider the bigger questions in life that make us curious and grow inside. 

Spirituality encourages the development of the whole person; mentally, emotionally, and morally. It fosters a sense of interconnectedness and purpose, promoting children's overall well-being. It also addresses existential questions about purpose and meaning in life and provides space for children to explore these questions contributing to their sense of fulfilment and direction, and connection with something beyond themselves. For those with faith this can mean a connection and relationship with God.

Cultural Development


This aspect of the curriculum enables children to explore, respect and appreciate cultural influences and diversity. It allows children the explore fundamental British values in relation to the role of democracy, individual liberty, the rule of law and respect and tolerance. It is also about participating in cultural opportunities so that they gain a deeper knowledge and understanding of people as well developing positive attitudes towards difference. Carefully chosen images used in lessons and Assembly time also contribute to children's understanding and appreciation of diversity. 


Religious Education also provides an opportunity for children to learn about the diversity of faiths around the world and within our own country with a focus on similarities. Likewise, children learn about influential figures from around the world who have shaped the world and have made a positive influence on society.

Children learn about democracy and parliamentary system through the School Council and the RSHE curriculum. Each Class votes for a representative who carries forward the view of the class to seek change in a democratic way that is for the good of the whole rather than the individual. 

Relationships, Sex and Health Education

Relationships, Sex and Health Education is interconnected and closely related to children’s Social, Moral, Spiritual and Cultural development (SMSC). With this in mind, our RSHE curriculum from Reception to Year 6 reflects and incorporates social, moral, spiritual and cultural development to form part of the curriculum we call personal or character development.


We feel having all these areas under one umbrella illustrates a joined up holistic approach to children’s personal development.


Personal or character development is an important part of our curriculum which also reflects our religious character and recognises the importance of the whole child.


‘So God created humankind in his image. In the image of God, He created them’.  (Genesis I:27, NRSV)


The Church of England has set out a bold Vision for Education that is deeply Christian, serving the common good. This is set out in several strands.These strands include Hope, Aspiration and Courageous Advocacy (Strand 3), Community and Living Well Together (Strand 4) and Dignity and Respect (Strand 5) and all have been built into our RSHE curriculum.


We recognise that character building and character virtues underpin positive relationships and as such, ‘character’ is not exclusively developed solely through curricular opportunities, but also through interactions with other human beings.


This means all adults who work in our school are in the privileged position of shaping our children’s thoughts, values, virtues and attitudes by their own interactions.

Our Personal and Character development offer

Guided by our theologically rooted Christian vision, to ignite children's curiosity, nurture loving hearts and promote physical and mental well-being, our school attempts to go beyond what is typically expected through a rich set of inclusive activities and opportunities designed to broaden children's experiences and develop their talents and interests. These experiences are coherently planned to ensure a strong and consistent offer as children progress through the school. Our curricular map for Personal and Character Development can been downloaded using the link below:

Personal Development Curricular Map FIN.pdf