Ethos is defined as the framework of aims, principles and expectations that a school sets out, both explicitly and implicitly, to support the process of enabling learning in an ordered, safe and secure environment. It reflects the beliefs of the school and encompasses a set of values that it aims to promote across its curriculum and sets the climate and outlook of the school. The school ethos ‘....is reflected in the way pupils relate to each other, how pupils relate to staff, and how the school relates to the community it serves' (DCSF).
Good practice suggests that the ethos of a school will have been developed from a consensus, led by the headteacher and governing body, involving detailed discussions with school staff, parents, pupils and often with outside agencies and community users of the school. It will have been informed by both national and local guidelines and reflect how the school operates as a learning community, promoting a sense of identity and belonging. A positive school ethos will promote an inclusive environment and reflect the school's approach to rights and responsibilities, equal opportunities, special educational needs and the recognition of diversity and differences. A positive ethos has been identified in many school improvement studies as being fundamental to raising achievement and is linked to the development of behaviour management, anti-bullying, peer support and other whole school strategies.
Relevance for teachers
Everyone in a school community contributes to establishing the ethos. The ethos in individual classrooms will both reflect the ethos in the school as a whole and have an impact on it. It is the responsibility of teachers to understand and promote the school ethos and to help their pupils to do the same.
Hill, D. & Cole, M. (2001) Schooling and Equality, London: Kogan Page.
Smith, D. (1998). School Ethos: A Process for Eliciting the Views of Pupils . Pastoral Care in Education. Volume 16 Issue 1. p 3.