As our thirtieth birthday approached last year, and as I shared time with current staff, former staff, and founders, I began to realise that part of the enduring success of Emmanuel is that, over the last thirty years we have developed a highly distinctive and highly relevant approach to what we do.
So, I set myself the task of trying to distil this X factor. What I’ve ended up with is not a perfect distillation, but I thought it might be worth sharing anyway, because the very best education happens when families and schools work in partnership—and for that to happen the families need to know both what schools do and why they do it.
At the risk of over-simplifying, this is the philosophy Emmanuel has evolved, expressed in our four “sets of 10s”:
Firstly, Emmanuel has always striven to not just enable students to gain results, but to also develop the kind of minds that can make a real difference to the world, minds that have ten distinctive characteristics. Minds that are:
3. what Carol Dweck calls “growth-mind-sets”
5. critically skilled (having what Antioch University calls “the skills critical for success …
in today’s complex and ever-changing world”)
and that are, above all,
10. and what John Piper calls “God-centered and Christ-exalting”.
Secondly, and underpinning the desire to develop these minds, we have always espoused and been guided by our ten core values - the eight Cardinal points of our Compass: Faith, Hope, Wisdom, Compassion, Justice, Self-Control, Courage and Integrity
The two values of the Cross that sits at heart of our compass - what Jurgen Moltman calls the “horizontal dimension” of servant-humility and love for neighbour, and the “vertical dimension” of love for the God who is in His very nature Love.
Thirdly, we have built our teaching philosophy around what Robert Marzano calls his ten design questions. These questions (which I will not reproduce here, but can be found on Marzano’s web-site (https://www.marzanoresearch.com) are the guiding framework that enables every teacher to ensure that the above ideals are translated into practical teaching and learning - earning which is reliably of the highest standard.
Then there is our "life-in-all-its-fullness" curriculum, with its focus on both breadth and depth, and its balanced focus on its ten elements: academic, performance, sporting, creative, outdoor, service, spiritual, character-developing, well-being-developing, pastoral.
This curriculum overtly values all aspects of the child, not just, say, the academic or sporting (as others might). Yet it still, consistently, produces remarkable results!
How do our teachers do this?
Well, there are no doubt a number of reasons, but I will suggest one - we have always based what we do on four, core, New Testament passages: Luke 18:16, Luke 14, John 10:10 and Philippians 4:8.
In Luke 18, Jesus invites all children (not just those the crowd ‘approved of’) to receive his blessing - a blessing which (in Jesus’ time) signified the giving of happiness, wisdom, what the Jews called Shalom (wholeness, completeness, harmony and peace) and also the commissioning of the person who is blessed to go out and make a difference. We try to do exactly the same, and our ambition has always been to see happy, whole, wise graduates leave here in order to make a real difference to the world.
In Luke 14, Jesus tells of the Good Samaritan - the ultimate example of how that positive difference can be made through the combination of learnt, skilled knowledge, loving compassion and the bravery needed to serve and to bless others regardless of the cost.
Meanwhile, in John 10:10, Jesus speaks of the “life in all its fullness” he offers us - life lived as authentic, whole people, in God’s love - and it has always been our ambition to enable our graduates to grasp that abundant life.
Finally, in Philippians 4:8, Paul exhorts us to live out and celebrate: “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable” and whatever “is excellent or praiseworthy.”
So, 44 points - four sets of ten, and one set of four - not enough to fully distil all that makes Emmanuel distinctive, but maybe enough to begin explaining that distinction.
Have a wonderful break, and may the God whose sacrificial, Good-Samaritan love we celebrate at Easter, bless you and all whom you love.