The DfE have recently 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 have been reiterated this year (2014). At St William's these values are reinforced regularly and in the following ways:
Democracy is embedded at the school. Children 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. Pupils also have the opportunity to air their opinions and ideas through our School Council and regular questionnaires. The elections of the School Council members are based solely on pupil votes, reflecting our British electoral system and demonstrating democracy in action. School council work not only to solve issues that the children raise but also have input into their curriculum and the standards of the school.
The Rule of Law
The importance of Laws, whether they be those that govern the class, the school, or the country, are consistently reinforced throughout regular school days, as well as when dealing with behaviour and through school assemblies and collective worship. 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. Visits from authorities such as the Police and Fire Service help reinforce this message.
Within school, pupils 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 young pupils to make 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 E-Safety and PSHE lessons. Whether it be through choice of learning challenge, of how they record, of participation in our numerous extra-curricular clubs and opportunities, pupils are given the freedom to make choices.
Mutual respect is at the heart of our 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. The children know and understand that it is expected and imperative that respect is shown to everyone, whatever differences we may have and to everything, however big or small.
Tolerance of Different Faiths and Beliefs
At St William's we are lucky to be at the heart of a community in which families live who have a wide range of cultural backgrounds,therefore we place a great emphasis on promoting diversity with the children in order to promote tolerance and respect of other faiths and cultures. Assemblies are planned to address this either directly or through the inclusion of stories and celebrations from a variety of faiths and cultures. Our RE and PSHE teaching reinforce this. Members of different faiths or religions are encouraged to share their knowledge to enhance learning within classes and the school. Children visit places of worship that are important to different faiths. Through this our children gain an enhanced understanding of their place in a culturally diverse society.
The Spiritual Life of our School
The spiritual life of our school is a central feature of our approach to learning and the school upholds a strong Catholic Ethos. The teaching of love and respect for all regardless of religion or culture are core principles which we foster in our children in order to prepare them for life in modern Britain. We believe, and we encourage our children to believe, that people should treat everyone with respect whatever their race, gender, sexual orientation, religious belief, special need or disability. The pupils’ sense of community, where respect for each other is paramount and everyone helps everyone else, is extremely strong in our school and we have an emphasis on truth, honesty, justice and fairness reinforced by the acts of forgiveness and reconciliation.
Through alternative faith weeks in RE, planned enhancement faith weeks in school and global partnership work, celebrations and practice, traditions of other religions and cultures are shared and through this a strong sense of social awareness and responsible behaviour is encouraged and praised.
Children are aware of the need to respect everyone as reflected in the school’s mission statement.
Further, we build the self-esteem in our children to give them the coping strategies to be positive about others and not be influenced by any negative peer pressure that they may encounter.
Our aim is that all of our pupils are highly considerate and very supportive of each other and that they develop a greater understanding and empathy with the community in which they live, the national community and the global community.