The Department for Education have recently emphasised the important role that British values can play in education and reinforced the need “to create and enforce a clear and rigorous expectation on all schools to promote the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs.”
The Government set out its definition of British values in the 2011 Prevent Strategy, and these values were reiterated in 2014. At St George’s, British Values are promoted in much of what we do, during school assemblies, Religious Education and Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) sessions. The values are also integral to our vision and values.
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 British values we promote are not unique to Britain. We acknowledge that they differ in no way from the values of the many countries and the cultural backgrounds represented by some of our families at St George’s.
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 living in, and being part of, Britain, we value and celebrate the diverse heritages of our country. In general terms, this means that we celebrate traditions and customs in the course of the year; for example, Harvest Festival during the autumn term; Remembrance Day; our annual carol service and nativity plays at Christmas; Easter, etc. We also value and celebrate national events such as royal celebrations, a general election and a recent example being the 100th anniversary of the start of World War One.
Children also learn about being part of Britain from different perspectives. All of our classes are named after native species of animal which would be found on our school grounds.
Two specific examples of when we teach about being part of Britain are:
Geographically: Our rivers, coasts and seaside holiday topics ensure that children have a better understanding of what Britain is, learning more about:
- its coasts, rivers and mountains
- where Britain is in relation to the rest of Europe and other countries in the world
Historically: Key moments in British history are studied in the topics such as the Great Fire of London and significant historical figures such Guy Fawkes and Grace Darling. Along with changes in Britain across the ages in our “That’s so last (half) century.
Children, parents and staff have many opportunities for their voices to be heard at St George’s School. Democracy is central to how we operate.
The children at St George’s see democracy borne out in a wide variety of ways and see this as being an essential component of successful team working. An obvious example is our structure of School Council. The children in Year 5 and 6 who show an interest in becoming the Chair, Vice Chair and Scribe of our School Council, write their own speeches persuading others in the school to vote for them. They present their speeches to the whole school where every child then gets an opportunity to vote for their chosen representative. Each class elects its own Class Council representative reflecting our British electoral system and demonstrating democracy in action. Children are elected fairly and pupils are able to consider characteristics important for an elected representative; pupils vote in secret using ballot boxes etc. Our School Council meet fortnightly with our Deputy Head to discuss issues raised by class members, to discuss ideas and suggestions for future improvements to the school. The minutes are then shared on our website and the School Council board in the school hall.
Democracy in action is also evident through our House system, shining light group, and in individual classrooms as decisions are made that impact on everyone. Pupils are actively involved in staff recruitment and regularly put forward suggestions to the PTA on how to spend its funds.
Every child’s voice is valued and actively encouraged through our open door policy and additional support via ELSA sessions. 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 of not only 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.
Parents’ opinions are welcomed at St George’s through methods such as questionnaires, surveys and working groups for areas such as school meals and playground improvements. We have an Open door policy for parents and there are also opportunities to make suggestions in our PTFA suggestions box. .
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. Pupils are taught from an early age the rules of the school. At the start of the school year, each class discusses the school rules and class routines, 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, that they govern and protect us, the responsibilities that this involves, and the consequences when laws are broken. These values are reinforced in different ways:
- visits from authorities such as the police and fire service
- during Religious Education, when rules for particular faiths are thought about
- during other school subjects, where there is respect and appreciation for different rules
To encourage and promote good behaviour, attitude and work, we have devised a reward system which is consistently followed throughout the school. We are committed to praising children’s efforts. We endeavour to praise the children informally, individually, during group work, in front of the whole class and the whole school.
Children are rewarded not only for achievement in curriculum areas, but for behaviour and general adherence to the school or class rules as well as Achievements outside of school. Rewards are given in the form of stickers, certificates and the collection of ‘stars’. Children’s (and staff’s) achievements are recognised during our weekly awards assembly, published in our weekly newsletters and displayed on our “Look how we Shine” board.
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, we provide boundaries for our pupils to make choices safely. For example:
- choices about what learning challenge or activity they will complete
- choices about how they record their learning
- choices about which ideas they vote for in class council
- choice regarding the school lunch menu
- choices around the participation in extra-curricular activities
Our Values based discussions and acts of worship begin with discussion about the self, e.g. self-respect, self-worth and self-esteem in relation to the individual value so that children see that they are important in their own right. Through thinking skills and growth mind-set we encourage children to develop their own thoughts and opinions and to feel confident to explain these. We also value the ability of each child to stand by their views as well as considering the opinions of others. Children are strongly encouraged to develop independence in learning and to think for themselves.
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 online safety and PSHE lessons. They also understand that with rights come responsibilities.
Mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs
St George’s serves an area which is not culturally diverse so we work hard to promote and celebrate different backgrounds and beliefs of others through focused curriculum opportunities. Tolerance, politeness and mutual respect are at the heart of our aims and ethos. As a school we ensure that everyone is included in everything we do.
Our pupils know and understand that it is expected that respect is shown to everyone and to everything, whatever differences we may have. Respect is a fundamental school value, linked to all areas of school behaviour, relationships and development. Children learn that their behaviour choices have an effect on their own rights and those of others. All members of the school community are encouraged to treat each other with respect.
Specific examples of how we at St George’s School enhance pupils’ understanding and respect for different faiths and beliefs are:
- through Religious Education, PSHE and other lessons where we develop awareness and appreciation of other cultures including visiting places of worship that are important to different faiths
- in English through fiction
- in art and music by considering cultures from other parts of the world
- across the curriculum, providing pupils with the opportunity to learn how to argue and defend points of view in English, history, geography, PSHE, digital literacy, etc
- celebrating cultural differences through assemblies, themed weeks, noticeboards and displays.
- Including its place as a main Christian Value throughout our worship calendar.
Whilst instances contrary to our values are relatively rare, no school can guarantee that there will never be instances which are contrary to our values. Each is treated seriously in line with our policies and expectations.