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The choices an individual makes, determines their future, and the purpose of developing good character, is the ability to make good choices.  Our ambitious curriculums enable our pupil’s to understand choice and our commitment to developing character, allows pupil’s at Atherton High to flourish as individuals and contribute positively to the wider society.

Character education is integral to the development of pupil’s, in forming well-educated and well-rounded young adults.  We promote character in many different forms within our Personal Development curriculum but we also explicitly plan and cultivate positive personal traits that informs pupils motivation and guides their conduct.  These plans are aligned and are interwoven in our values of respect, responsibility and ambition.

Our ambition for pupils is to be intrinsically motivated and take personal responsibility for their education. In his book ‘Drive’, Daniel Pink recognises that the ‘carrot and stick’ method of motivation is flawed.  Using the 5 big ideas from Pink’s research, we have created our processes to enable pupils to take responsibility for their own ambition, motivation for success and a lifelong habit of professional learning.

The 5 big ideas are:

Researchers have found that extrinsic rewards can be effective for algorithmic tasks—those that depend on following an existing formula to its logical conclusion. But for more right-brain undertakings—those that demand flexible problem-solving, inventiveness, or conceptual understanding—contingent rewards can be dangerous.

At Atherton High School we strive to achieve this big idea by;

  • We recognise achievement.
  • We celebrate achievement through our annual Ambition Awards evening.
  • Pupils receive points per lesson for following the Law’s of Eve.
  • Pupils can achieve reward points for sustained levels of achievement, going above and beyond in individual situations or demonstrating AHS values of responsibility and ambition.
  • We have designed our own internal accreditation of experiences at each stage of the Personal Development curriculum.

The long-term goal of pupils is to achieve our ‘Ambition Badges’:

Goals that people set for themselves and that are devoted to attaining mastery are usually healthy. But goals imposed by others can sometimes have dangerous side effects.

At Atherton High School we strive to achieve this big idea by;

  • Pupils in Year 7 participate in our 2-day ‘Belonging Programme’, aimed at deeply understanding our school values.
  • Pupils set termly goals during pastoral form time for attendance and achievements points.
  • Pupils are taught our behaviour’s and character traits during a carefully sequenced assembly and pastoral form structure.
  • At the start of Year 11, pupils (in agreement with SLT & KS4 Head of Standards) set specific reward parameters for attendance, attitude to learning and behaviour points.

We have three innate psychological needs—competence, autonomy, and relatedness.

At Atherton High School we strive to achieve this big idea by;

  • Pupils participate in cultural experiences to ensure they belong. We call this ‘beyond the curriculum’, a form of non-negotiable experiences to widen our pupils cultural capital.

Research shows that the secret to high performance isn’t our biological drive or our reward-and-punishment drive, but our third drive—our deep-seated desire to direct our own lives, to extend and expand our abilities, and to live a life of purpose.

At Atherton High School we strive to achieve this big idea by;

  • AHS is committed to supporting a first-class careers programme through the restructure of staffing roles, to enable a member of staff to achieve the Level 6 CEIAG qualification.
  • At AHS we celebrate high work ethic and commitment to study.
  • Our homework model is designed to support independence.
  • Knowledge organisers are promoted as tools for revision and constant academic reading.
  • We work closely with the Duke of Edinburgh scheme to remove barriers to participation and set ambitious targets for the number of pupils completing the bronze award.
  • We promote and deliver a high-class enrichment programme, led by our Disadvantaged Lead.
  • Year 9 pupils complete the Premier League Inspires programme, to develop the traits we identify as being important at KS4.

The new approach to motivation has three essential elements: (1) Autonomy—the desire to direct our own lives; (2) Mastery—the urge to get better and better at something that matters; and (3) Purpose—the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.

At Atherton High School we strive to achieve this big idea by;

  • AHS is committed to creating cultural experiences and exposing pupils to influential people.


Atherton High School is completing the framework for the ACE School of Character award and hopes to achieve the quality mark in Autumn 2023.

“Our actions become our habits, our habits become our character, our character is who we are.”