Promoting ‘British Values’ in our school
The words ‘British Values’ have been in the news quite a lot recently, and specifically with regard to schools and young people. It is an important part of current Government education policy and this page is intended to explain with a little more clarity how British Values are defined, what our responsibilities are and how we are meeting them
The Government set out its definition of British values in the 2011 ‘Prevent’ Strategy, and these values were reiterated in 2014. The Department for Education announced their intention “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.”
We believe that within our ethos and day-to-day school life, Sandford St. Martin’s embraces these values. We thought you would like to know how they can be seen in our school.
Each year the children take part in an election where each class elects two representatives for the school council. The council meets on a regular basis with the Deputy Headteacher to raise issues and explore ways of improving the school. These school councillors have important decisions to make on behalf of the children – they choose the charities that we will fundraise for and they are consulted on significant issues – most notably they were recently given control over the design of the toilet blocks in the new school, leading to the bright colours and installation of the ‘abracadabra taps’ (as described by one Year 1 child…!) The school council also provides reports to the Governing Body.
Children contribute to their end-of-year reports, sharing their thoughts and feelings about their school year alongside their personal successes and areas for improvement and we also conduct a questionnaire where children can express their views on a range of issues to do with school life within the classroom and without.
The Rule of Law
The importance of following rules and laws is reinforced at school. In school we all follow our Golden Rules, and at the start of each year each class explores these rules and produces a classroom display including photographs to demonstrates that rules have a reason. Our children 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. Our children visit Streetwise to explore, among other things, the role of the Emergency Services and visits to school from the Fire Service and Police officers help to reinforce these messages.
Within school, our children are actively encouraged to make choices, knowing that they are in a safe and supportive environment. As a school we educate and provide boundaries for the children to make these choices safely, through provision of a safe environment and empowering education. Pupils are encouraged to know, understand and exercise their rights and personal freedoms and advised how to exercise these safely, for example through our Assemblies, E-Safety and PSHE lessons. We encourage our children to make the right choices all the time, however also understand that making mistakes is a part of the learning process and that it is just as important to take responsibility for our actions if we make wrong choices. We also help children to understand that we all have to ensure that our freedom to choose and act should not come at the expense of another person or people. Our rich range of after-school and lunchtime clubs gives children further chances to make personal choices.
Mutual respect is at the heart of our Christian values. Children learn that their behaviours have an effect on their own rights and those of others. All members of the school community treat each other with respect. We contribute to our wider society in many ways: we invite local residents in to sing carols at Christmas, participate in Sandford’s annual act of remembrance, we collect food to be shared among those in need in our community during Harvest time, we have fundraising events for charities whose work is important in a variety of ways. We also work in close partnership with the local Parish and support the community initiatives that they are developing through the Community Worship Space which is such a vital part of our school building.
Tolerance of those of different faiths and backgrounds
In a school where a significant number of pupils come from a similar background it is important that tolerance is taught and understood by our children and staff. Through RE, PSHE and assemblies children look at and explore different religions. The needs of children with different religious beliefs are positively welcomed and understanding is promoted with other children.
We believe that these values are a part of our every day life, and that they underpin an inclusive, diverse and engaging society. Our school film, made in 2016, was inspired by a wonderful video called ‘Where the Heck is Matt 2012’. We used this film as the basis of a complete week’s project where we explored many of the areas that form our British Values.