Character Education – A Pillar of a World Class Education System

This year, 650 students were enrolled at Kilvington, the most in our 91 year history, 40 per cent were boys. Next year approximately 690 students will be enrolled in the School. These are very exciting times for Kilvington, as we continue to carve out our niche as a smaller coeducational School of excellence, where every child is known and valued.

The year has been full of highlights. For instance, as an open-entry independent school we were ranked 3rd Australia-wide for our 2013 Year 3, 5, 7 and 9 NAPLAN results. In each of the Kilvington Flagships – Writing, Performing Arts, Robotics/Engineering, IT, Care and Peace – considerable advances have been made, with a number of outstanding achievements in state and national competitions. And there have been a record number of parent functions.

This evening I want to briefly comment about one of the most important pillars upon which a world class education system is built. There are a number, such as academic excellence, critical and creative thinking skills and care, ones that I have commented on before. Tonight though I want to focus on the pillar of ‘character education’, which has been a key focus this year.

The Kilvington mission statement states that we want to inspire our students to strive for academic excellence, and to become people of depth, strength, integrity and character. It emphasises both academic excellence and character development, and aligns so well with that great quote from Martin Luther King Jr, “We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education”.

Martin Luther King
Research confirms and common sense tells us that character traits such as attentiveness, self-discipline, diligence, perseverance, and the capacity to work in a team and independently, all impact positively on academic achievement. That is, academic achievement and character education are not mutually exclusive. They are intertwined and belong together.

Moreover, as important as results are, and I assure you they will always be at Kilvington, once the dust settles on VCE marks and other academic achievements, it is a person’s depth of character that will largely determine their success in life. As Albert Einstein said, it is not the intellect which makes a great scientist, it is character.

Professor James Arthur of the University of Birmingham, heads up the Jubilee Centre for Character and Values. He is a strong advocate of character education, arguing that good schools are committed to teaching it.

The work of the Jubilee Centre is underpinned by a number of key principles. They include:
• Character is largely caught through role modelling: school culture is therefore essential.
• Character should be taught, directly.
• Character results in academic gains for students, such as higher grades.

With the last principle we again see the link between character education and academic achievement.

For me, a highlight of this year was the Kilvington Choristers singing in Europe. Particularly moving was the ANZAC Day dawn service we attended at the Australian War Memorial near Villers-Bretonneux. It powerfully reminded us of the courage, sacrifice and service of so many. Greater love has no person, the ultimate test of character.

Character education is a key pillar of a world class education system. If built in balance with other pillars, it will ensure students will not only achieve their best in tests, but also pass the tests of life.

Kilvington Grammar is a great school, and collectively we have fulfilled many goals and achieved so much this year. With great anticipation, we can all look forward to another year full of opportunities and achievements.