Developing Culture, Legacy and Ethos through School Sport

Legacy by James Keer
Legacy by James Keer
This summer I followed the CPD advice of an influential edu-blogger and ‘read a book’. One of the many books I spent reading was Legacy, 15 lessons in Leadership. James Kerr, the author, got the privilege in 2010 to spend around 5 weeks in a training camp with the All Blacks. He got to speak to the staff and players that made up one of the greatest teams in sport. His experiences and insight into the culture that Graham Henry created are shared in this book.

Their Mantra is simple: Better people make better All Blacks. Wayne Smith I think has a lot to do with this. I went to a day at the Kassad Stadium with him a few years back after he had left the All Blacks as World Cup Winners and took the Chiefs to a Super 15s title. Create a culture where the leaders are humble and set the standards. Create a culture where family and team is everything. Create a culture where keeping calm is a virtue that is celebrated. Create a culture that you leave the shirt you play in a better state for the next person. It truly is an inspirational read, but how does that relate to school?

Well 6 years ago during preseason I had the senior students try to come up with a charter – something that put what Ethos they want to create – then live up to those expectations and get the younger boys coming up to meet them.

This is what they came up with:

If in doubt, always remember that your values and your behaviour affects not only you as an individual but also your team mates, and the way the School is viewed by others.

Our spirit and attitude bring us together as a team and as a school. In order to deliver on the field we must meet the challenges off the field.

We place School sports success above self-interest, and strive to uphold the legacy and values of our Schools members.

We are sustained by strong leadership, dedicated contributors and high personal standards.

We are bound by a staunch sense of tradition and belonging to a School of which we are immensely proud.

We endeavour to have a better understanding of the game. We are open minded and have a thirst for knowledge which develops us both as a player and as a person.

Our Ethos and Values are about the intangible character and spirit that should guide and develop us; yet our Standards are the authoritative yard sticks which define our actions and behaviour. These in turn create our community and culture.

Our Values and Standards are not abstract concepts, but are vital in continuing the long and illustrious history of our School and achieving success on the field.

Upholding our Standards and Values is the collective responsibility of the entire squad:

  • Be proud to play for our school. It is both an honour and a privilege.
  • Loyalty and commitment are not just words, but guide us in our realtionship with school, our chosen sport, our coaches and our team mates.
  • Players are encouraged to recognise and appreciate the efforts made by coaches in providing the opportunity for us to play the game and enjoy the sporting environment.
  • All members are expected to care for and respect the facilities and equipment made available to us.
  • Respect our teammates and coaches by being punctual for training and matches, and communicating availability with the Team Manager.
  • Recognise that many officials, coaches and referees are volunteers who give up their time to provide their services. Recognise that staff go above and beyond their job requirements to ensure the players receive the best possible experience. We should treat them all with the utmost respect.
  • Each member of the squad is responsible for the creation of enjoyable and successful environment.
  • Players should play because they want to do so.
  • All members of the squad should display consistently high standards of behaviour and appearance.
  • Honour the spirit and promote the positive aspects of Sport: fair play, good sportsmanship and the recognition of good play by team mates and opponents.

Representing your school is a privilege, not an entitlement. Failure to consistently meet these expectations may result in that privilege being withdrawn.

On top of this they want to bring in a couple of traditions:

When you play your first game for the school, you are given a badge by the 1st Team Captain of the sport in front of the whole school.

When you make your 1st team debut for the school, you receive first team socks or a cap, on the day of your debut from the last player in the team to achieve that recognition.

When you make 10 full appearances for the first team you receive a sports tie from the Headmaster in front of the whole school.

(Now all I need to do is find the money!).


I hope this begins to change the culture and ethos of sport at my school. I’m hoping character trumps talent.


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