All who visit Oasis Academy Coulsdon comment on the warm and welcoming atmosphere which we have worked hard to develop and instil as part of our culture. We actively promote universal values such as democracy, rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs through our curriculum and pastoral programmes. But it is our strong sense of ‘Family’ which, we believe, makes our Academy unique and helps our students grow into well educated, caring, and responsible citizens.
At Oasis Academy Coulsdon it is not just what we achieve that has to be outstanding, but the way that we achieve it too. We are a Family and have been very deliberate about how we have created the culture and ethos to underpin everything else we do. The Ethos Director from Oasis, along with our Chaplain, spent a day in the Academy interviewing a cross-section of students, staff and parents. There were questions and discussion, and activities that students completed with pictures to help them express how they felt and what it was like to be a part of this Academy. The findings from each group were then analysed to create the whole picture and look for synergy.
When asked to describe the ethos of the Academy, staff used the following words; ‘family’, ‘tough love’, ‘honesty’, ‘equality’, ‘valuing people’ and a place of ‘forgiveness’ and ‘high aspirations’. They also talked about the strong sense of pastoral care for staff which was personal and genuine. The staff described ‘tough love’ as the love of a parent for a child – they are simply treating the students as they treat their own children, caring for them and wanting the very best for them, and discipline is an expression of that care. The staff felt a strong sense of belonging to Oasis Academy Coulsdon – and the feeling of family at OAC is a tangible reality for the staff.
One staff member commented:
when you go to buy a house you get a feeling. That is what it is like here – it feels right.
Staff thought that students would describe the ethos of OAC as one of ‘trust’, ‘choices’, ‘family’, ‘love’, ‘being cared for’, ‘appreciated,’ and ‘a place of belonging’. One staff member said, “Students do realise how much love there is here for them.” They also described the loyalty students have to OAC.
Using the picture stimulus activity, students described OAC as a family where all are included. They described how teachers have hope for the students, and that Oasis is a second home for them where they ‘don’t feel awkward or uncomfortable.’ Students also talked about the Academy being a place of kindness, tough love and hope. One student simply said ‘Here, you are loved.’ A picture of a climber reaching the peak of a climb was used by students to describe how they are learning the importance of never giving up, of striving to achieve and being able to learn to do this independently, and being given strategies to help them succeed.
Students spoke with great care about staff, acknowledging and appreciating all the extra work staff do for students such as extra Maths lessons. They talked about staff being like parents to them and of the Academy being a happy place and full of zest! Progression and forward movement was seen as a feature of the Academy. Being static is not seen by the students a good thing.
When the students were asked to describe what kind of people they were being encouraged to become by Oasis, they said, ‘respectful, caring, high achieving, living to the standards of the staff, inspiring and leading others, to be somebody and not nobody, to be good and better, to achieve something and to still be humble.’
When asked to describe the values and beliefs of OAC, parents said that the Christian beliefs underpin everything but these beliefs are not imposed. One parent went on to describe the Academy as caring, passionate and genuine, and a place where each child is treated as an individual and each child is helped to achieve their potential and given every chance to do this. Seeking achievement is seen as a core value of the Academy. The Academy was also seen as a warm and welcoming environment. It is place where students are helped to become ‘good, rounded, and prepared for life.’
There was a strong sense of hope amongst the staff – and a determination to achieve the very best. ‘We will be outstanding – this is non-negotiable.’ There was no dissenting view regarding the alignment of what is said and displayed concerning ethos, what is practised and experienced by staff and what is taught to and caught by the students. All staff and students have bought into it and in no way is seen as an add-on to the focus on academic achievement.
While our ethos has been described here as ‘Outstanding’, we are not finished nor satisfied and will continue to work with you all to make this the very best Academy it can be for everyone in this community.