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Essential values for a modern education

While parents play a significant role in forming a child’s moral compass and sense of ethics, teachers also strongly influence the emerging value system of many young people. This symbiotic partnership was perfectly described by Martin Luther King Jr., who once said, “Intelligence plus character — that is the goal of true education.”
Essential values for a modern education

With our increasingly digital lifestyles – especially after the upsurge in online interactions during the pandemic – parents are reporting renewed interest in ensuring children are exposed to a rich system of values. This resurgence has led to families actively seeking educational environments with a strong vision and exceptional principles to support the foundation teachings from within the home.

At ACG Sunderland, we are passionate about delivering outstanding education underpinned by strong family values, high standards and well-established traditions. All our students follow the Sunderland Way, which encompasses the six key values taught and lived at ACG Sunderland: respect, confidence, enthusiasm, loyalty, service and determination.

These meaningful values and standards are proudly nurtured and developed as we prepare our students to become confident, capable and well-rounded global citizens, with the clarity of purpose to achieve their full potential.

"Our culture is built on our motto of 'aspire, succeed, respect'– these are the pillars of ACG Sunderland," says Principal Nathan Villars. "Our general studies programme, where we unpack our values, is delivered three times a week, and service is a key component of the school's community feel, with the concept of giving back being fostered right across the campus."

Like a guiding compass, strong values help young minds grow, develop and make better choices. Accordingly, our teachers reinforce the Sunderland Way explicitly and implicitly, sharing positive values and attitudes through every student's learning and teaching experiences. Their role-modelling behaviour empowers students to explore and strengthen their own moral code, focusing on social interactions, integrity, respect, independent thinking, empathy and cultural awareness.

We also encourage our students to build long-lasting connections and relationships outside of their direct peer groups. This philosophy creates a vertically integrated family atmosphere where senior students can frequently be seen checking in with their younger counterparts, acting as mentors or just having a friendly chat, and instilling a sense of pride, ownership and belonging.

"Our school-wide House system ensures this family style structure is embedded into all aspects of school life," adds Principal Villars. "Each House is comprised of a mix of year levels, promoting interaction between age groups, developing leadership opportunities and strengthening our school's supportive and inclusive culture."

In addition, our links with the surrounding community continue to bring an array of benefits to students of all year levels, from learning valuable soft skills and gaining insights into human rights and citizenship to the satisfaction of actively contributing to their local area. Plus, being involved in positive civic action inspires our cohorts to play a pivotal role in their own development and gives them a sense of self and identity.

Our Sunderland on Service programme is a perfect example of this concept. Overseen by the student leadership team, Primary and College leaders organise several initiatives and charity events each year and motivate the whole campus to work towards a common goal that benefits the school or wider community. These service projects see students develop into caring and compassionate citizens who make a positive difference in the world around them.

Due in part to this immersive values experience, the school is currently experiencing unprecedented growth. However, Principal Villars is adamant that ACG Sunderland will always hold firm to the ideals and traditions its staff, students, and families value so highly. 

"Just this week, I explained to some prospective parents that our school's moral compass aligns with those of most parents at Sunderland. Therefore, the values taught here become a logical extension of their family life."

With such compelling standards and principles ingrained in the school's DNA, it's clear that all students have the chance to extend and embrace the Sunderland Way in an environment that allows them to thrive, both now and in the future.