The Other 3 Rs
01 April 1999
'Employers have found that it is no longer possible to rely on home or school to have taught a school leaver how to make a moral judgement,' explains the Director of the IBE, Stanley Kiaer. 'A code of business ethics can help once a school leaver had joined a company.
When Ann Rignall and Joy Weeks wrote The other 3 Rs, a resource for teaching values in secondary schools (see FAC July/August 1992, printed edition), they had no inkling that its fiercest champions would come from the world of business.
The resource pack, with its nine modules on responsibility, relationships and respect for life, has been taken up by Britain's Institute for Business Ethics (IBE), best known for its work in promoting company codes of business ethics.
'Employers have found that it is no longer possible to rely on home or school to have taught a school leaver how to make a moral judgement,' explains the Director of the IBE, Stanley Kiaer. 'A code of business ethics can help once a school leaver had joined a company. But we wondered if something could be done earlier to prepare him or her for a career.'
The other 3 Rs, published by the Family Education Trust, seemed to meet the bill. It was flexible, cross-curricular and explored moral issues through drama, art and research projects as well as discussion and questionnaires. It would be particularly useful to teachers of Personal and Social Education (PSE) which is part of the core curriculum in British schools, but poorly resourced. 'We didn't want to tell teachers what to do,' says Kiaer, 'but to offer them a resource.'
After a series of consultations with teachers, school governors and clergy, the IBE took on the marketing of The other 3 Rs. They arranged for the authors, both former teachers, to exhibit at the conferences of five national teachers' unions in 1997. 'The conversations we had there revealed the real need for such material,' says Ann Rignall. She went on to give two seminars at the conference of the National Association for Pastoral Care in Education.
Then, in the autumn of 1997 and spring of 1998, the IBE sent out mailings to Britain's 5000 secondary schools: 177 responded by buying some or all of the modules. Some 30 schools expressed interest in in-service training, though only two took it up.
'This was disappointing,' says Joy Weeks. PSE comes low down schools' priorities, she explains, and is usually taught by non-specialists who opt for training in their main subject when faced with a choice on in-service training days.
But in the two schools that asked for training the response was enthusiastic. 'The teachers said that they were glad for new ideas on how to initiate discussion and new topics to talk about,' she says. 'PSE normally concentrates on bullying, drugs, alcohol and sex.'
This spring, the IBE sent a questionnaire to the 177 schools who bought The other 3 Rs. 'The initial responses are good,' says Kiaer. 'They show that not only have schools found it useful, but that they reckon it is fairly priced and would recommend it to others.'
Meanwhile the resource material has been taken up overseas. It has been used in Nigeria and in state schools and a young offenders' institution in Brazil, where a Portuguese edition is in the pipeline.