What Is Character Education at George Street Normal School?


"Character education is deliberate teaching and learning that assists children to make good choices."


Character Education at George Street Normal School is:

  • values in action. Because behaviour can be taught and learnt, character can be taught and learnt
  • a partnership with our parents who are the most important teachers of character helping children become the best they can be
  • a vital component of education. No matter how well our children achieve academically, success in life will be determined by the quality of their relationships and therefore their character
  • an overt, pro-active and highly visible part of our school culture
  • teaching children how to act appropriately and get along with each other
  • more than a collection of occasional behaviours or a set of good intentions. Our Character Education delivery is planned, resourced, sequential, age appropriate and happens every day, with everyone. 


What behaviours determine our character?

Our school community has chosen a comparatively small set of objective values that we believe are the foundation of character. These Cornerstone Values, which are consistent with the revised New Zealand Curriculum, become the focus for one 10 week term every two years.

  1. Honesty and Truthfulness
    Willingness not to steal, cheat, lie or be unfair. 
    This means telling the truth
  2. Kindness
    Willingness to help, show concern for and be friendly to others.
    This means being a friend
  3. Consideration 
    Willingness to be kind, thoughtful and consider the interest of others before self.
    This means thinking of others
  4. Compassion
    Willingness to help, empathise with, or show mercy to those who suffer.
    This means helping those in trouble
  5. Responsibility
    Willingness to be answerable, to be trustworthy and accountable for one’s conduct and behaviour.
    This means being trustworthy
  6. Respect
    Willingness to treat with courtesy; to hold in high regard; to honour; to care about yourself and others.
    This means being caring
  7. Duty
    Willingness to do what is right or what a person ought to do; obligation.
    This means doing the right thing
  8. Gratitude
    Gratitude means being thankful (whakawhetai)
    Children and adults who do, or say, nice things to others in return for their kindness, sometimes when it is unexpected, are showing gratitude


Character Education implementation strategies at George Street Normal School include:

  • lessons taught to each class help children to understand the concept, definition, choices to make and desired outcomes of the value of the term
  • classroom displays, community projects, songs, newsletters, literature and assemblies which reinforce the value of the term
  • learning from those who do the right thing. The place of good role models is stressed to staff and children and encouragement is given for each person to consider their example to others. Good role models identified and celebrated from within and beyond the school gate.

Further information on the Cornerstone Values approach to building character at George Street Normal School can be found at www.cornerstonevalues.org/classroom.html (section V).

What did the Education Review Office (ERO) say about Character Education at George Street Normal School?

“Throughout the school, there is a strong focus on values and character building.  The principal has taken a key role in implementing this.  ERO observed explicit teaching of positive values, attitudes and behaviours.  Teachers integrate related key competencies and skills, as outlined in the revised New Zealand curriculum.  They also maximise incidental opportunities to talk about values and the relevance of these to everyday situations.  Values and character education are highly visible in the school, for instance, in classroom displays and newsletters.

Students benefit from respectful and supportive relationships.  ERO observed consistently respectful and caring interactions between teachers, support staff and students.  Teachers and support staff work closely together to best meet students’ needs.  Teachers listen carefully to students and value their ideas and opinions.  Teachers model respectful behaviour and constructive ways to resolve differences.  Students spoken with told ERO that teachers care about them and their learning. The positive and inclusive school culture promotes students’ learning and sense of wellbeing.”

What do Parents say about Character Education at George Street Normal School?

“Positive environment for children to grow, learn and develop as whole people.”

“George Street does an excellent job teaching kids to be responsible, good citizens”.

“Positive, supportive, values-based education. Great.”

“I am impressed. Personally I value development of social skills and values as much as academic development and physical development. GSNS seems to achieve a balance of these.”

“Great teachers who will work with you if your child is having problems. Good sense of values being led from the top.”