Although in 2014-15 this was something that was developing in its significance for schools, it was not something new at St Werburgh’s and St Columba’s Catholic Primary. The promotion of these values had always been part of what we do as a school but had never been linked to the term British Values. It had, simply, always been part of our ethos. British values are promoted in so much of what we do, not least during our school assemblies, Religious Education and Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) sessions. The values are the integral to our ethos as a Catholic school.
As well as actively promoting British values, the opposite also applies: we would actively challenge pupils, staff or parents expressing opinions contrary to fundamental British values, including ‘extremist’ views.
The term ‘British values’ might be slightly misleading in that these values are integral to so many countries throughout the world – they differ in no way from the values of most western European countries, for example.
Below are just a few examples of how we promote British values. The first section is a general overview; the others are specific expectations set out by Ofsted.
Being part of Britain
As a school, we value and celebrate the diverse heritages of everybody in our school. Alongside this, we value and celebrate being part of Britain. In general terms, this means that we celebrate traditions, such as customs in the course of the year; for example, Harvest festival and Remembrance Day during the Autumn term. We also value and celebrate national events, such as the Olympics and Commonwealth Games.
Children, parents and staff have many opportunities for their voices to be heard in our school. Democracy is central to how we operate.
An obvious example is our School Council and House Captains. The election of the School Council and House Captains reflect our British electoral system and demonstrates democracy in action: candidates make speeches, pupils consider characteristics important for an elected representative, pupils vote. The School Council meets regularly to discuss issues raised by the different classes.
Other examples of ‘pupil voice’ are:
children agree their Class Rules and the rights associated with these; all children contribute to the drawing up of these
children have the opportunity to nominate others for roles such as Community Ambassador or Road Safety Officer
using questionnaires, children are asked to respond and reflect on the teaching and learning
pupils are involved in the writing of the school Behaviour Policy
pupils will approach members of staff regarding fundraising for various causes local or international. They are given opportunities to independently organise events. Examples of this include cake sales for the local hospital, Foodbank and organising a Bring and Buy Sale to raise money for people affected by natural disasters around the world.
Pupils are always listened to by adults and are taught to listen carefully and with concern to each other, respecting the right of every individual to have their opinions and voices heard. We encourage pupils to take ownership not only of their school but also of their own learning and progress. This encourages a heightened sense of both personal and social responsibility and is demonstrated on a daily basis by our pupils.
Rules and laws
The importance of rules and laws, whether they be those that govern our school or our country, are referred to and reinforced often, such as in assemblies and when reflecting on behaviour choices. At the start of the school year, each class discusses and sets its own rules, a set of principles that are clearly understood by all and seen to be necessary to ensure that every class member is able to learn in a safe and ordered environment.
Pupils are taught the value and reasons behind laws and rules, that they protect us, the responsibilities that this involves, and the consequences when they are broken. These values are reinforced in different ways:
during Religious Education, when rules for particular faiths are thought about
during other school subjects, where there is respect and appreciation for different rules – in a sports lesson, for example
Reflection time when a rule has been broken
Clear explanation of reasons for teachers giving out sanctions for behaviour. Pupils are always given a warning and told why. This gives them the chance to change their behaviour.
Alongside rules and laws, we promote freedom of choice and the right to respectfully express views and beliefs. Through the provision of a safe, supportive environment and empowering education, we provide boundaries for pupils to make choices safely; for example:
choices about what learning challenge or activity
choices about how they record their learning
choices around the participation in extra-curricular activities
Our pupils are encouraged to know, understand and exercise their rights and personal freedoms and are taught how to exercise these safely, such as in our e-safety and SEAL lessons.
Mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs
At St Werburgh’s and St Columba’s Catholic Primary we are proud to promote and celebrate our different backgrounds and beliefs. Mutual respect is at the heart of our school. Although we are a Catholic school, pupils learn about other faiths and cultures.
Our pupils know and understand that it is expected and imperative that respect is shown to everyone, whatever differences we may have, and to everything, whether it is a school resource, a religious belief or whatever. Children learn that their behaviour choices have an effect on their own rights and those of others. All members of the school community should treat each other with respect.
Specific examples of how we enhance pupils understanding and respect for different faiths and beliefs are:
through Religious Education, SEAL and other lessons where we might develop awareness and appreciation of other cultures – in English through fiction and in Art by considering culture from other parts of the world, for example
enjoying a depth of study during Themed Weeks, where we will sometimes celebrate and enjoy learning about the differences in countries and cultures around the word (whilst at other times we might consider groups or individuals who might be vulnerable in some way, such as those with mental health issues)..
No school can guarantee that there will never be instances which are contrary to this value. At St Werburgh’s and St Columba’s, such instances are extremely rare.