A bit more of this wouldn't go amiss.

School goes back to basics
By HARRIET PALMER - Taranaki Daily News | Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Marfell Community School is going back to basics in a bid to teach children core values and to curb difficult behaviour.

As schools nationwide face increasingly complex and disturbing problems from young children, the New Plymouth school has started the Virtues Project, an American programme designed to show children how to respect one another and themselves.

They started five weeks ago and principal Janet Armstrong said the wheel had already started to turn.

"There has been a noticeable change in tone around the school. The children are really enthusiastic about the virtues," she said. "It's working."

The programme was an attempt to improve behaviour throughout the decile one school, which Mrs Armstrong said had a high concentration of children with challenging behaviours.

"It's something we have been looking at for the last couple of years. We realised what we had wasn't working and we needed to find a solution.

"We've reached the end of the road but we have a responsibility to provide for these children," she said.

Mrs Armstrong emphasised the problem wasn't confined to her school - others experiencing the same issues might be reluctant to speak out.

"We have some wonderful staff and kids here. They are making it happen," she said. "This is how we have chosen to work towards the changing needs of our children."

The school focused on a single virtue every two weeks. It was currently working on tact to teach children how to tell the truth kindly and think how their words would affect others.

Mrs Armstrong said reports of increasingly violent and unacceptable behaviour in primary schools were indicative of a society losing its moral base and leaving schools to deal with the result.

"There is no respect for perceived authority. We are struggling as a whole society.

"People are losing sight of these values, such as caring for one another, self-discipline, courtesy, honesty."

Mrs Armstrong said children were missing out on learning basic social skills at home and it had become the job of schools and teachers to fill in the gaps.

From here.