In June 2014, David Cameron emphasised the important role that British values can play in education and Ofsted now inspects how well a school promotes such values.
However, developing an understanding of British values is not new to schools as it is often promoted in school assemblies, Religious Education and Social, Moral, Spiritual and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SMSC.) In addition to actively promoting British values however, the opposite also applies as we actively challenge pupils, staff or parents who express 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 the majority of cultures.
Below are some 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 all at Manor Wood Primary School and what it means to be part of British Society. Throughout the year we celebrate traditions such as Harvest, Remembrance Sunday, Christmas, Easter, Diwali, Eid, Vaisakhi and Hanukah. At Christmas the Nativity is performed by all the children in KS1 and Early Years and Year 5 present traditional carols and readings around the Christmas tree. Many of our children visit the pantomime and traditional parties are held to celebrate the season.
In addition, we also value and celebrate national events, including the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and The Tour de France which started in Yorkshire.
Furthermore, children learn about being part of Britain from different specific perspectives. Two specific examples are learning about being part of Britain through the Geography curriculum. The programme of study for History also focuses on Britain as the children learn about World War 2, the Victorians and local history pertinent to Yorkshire.
Children, parents and staff have many opportunities for their voices to be heard at Manor Wood Primary School as democracy is a core value. An obvious example is our School Council, the election of which reflects the British electoral system and demonstrates democracy in action. Candidates make speeches, pupils consider characteristics important for an elected representative, a secret vote takes place and the representatives are duly elected from Years 1 – 6. The School’s Council meets regularly to discuss issues raised by the different classes; it has access to funding and genuinely affects change within the school. In 2013/ 14 the councillors created their own sweatshirts to help distinguish them easily. They are involved in all large school developments and regularly meet with the Headteacher to share their plans / concerns.
In autumn 2014 a new House System was established across school to increase a sense of belonging amongst the children, the camaraderie and motivation to work together to succeed. Once again, a democratic system was employed to select the House Captains who feed back to their peers every week in assemblies. A number of different competitions and event have been established to encourage Houses to engage more fully in the life of the school.
Many of our pupils identify charities to support, throughout the year, and plan fundraising events to raise funds. This is a very important part of the ethos at Manor Wood PS.
We are a Restorative school where pupils are 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. There is a strong sense of community and circles happen across the school with regularity. We encourage pupils to take ownership of not only their school but also of their own learning and progress. A current piece of work taking place is the development of Restorative Practice (RP) representatives who will support their peers to manage any issues they face independently and to further develop a feeling of social responsibility.
In the last two years our Year 6 pupils have applied to be the Children’s Mayor in Leeds and two of our children have reached the final stages. They have produced manifestos which have been circulated to all schools that are able to vote in the process. As a result of this activity they have attended a meeting in the council chambers where they have presented their manifestos.
Rules and Laws
The importance of rules and laws, whether they govern our school or our country, are referred to and reinforced often, through assemblies and Restorative Practice. At the start of the school year, each class discusses and sets its own agreed 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, 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 considered.
During other aspects of the curriculum, where there is respect and appreciation for different rules – in a sports lesson, for example.
They are reinforced and modelled by School’s Councillors and House Captains who can lose their positions if they are unable to set a positive example to their peers.
Children who are particularly good role models and highlight the ethos of school in their actions receive Manor Wood post cards in which the Headteacher recognises their huge contribution to the school.
In addition to the above, 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 our young pupils to make choices safely; for example:
Choices about what learning challenge or activity they undertake.
Choices about how they record their learning.
Participation in competitions both internal and external including mathematics challenges and sporting opportunities.
Choices regarding their 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, through RP and the curriculum for PSHCE.
Mutual Respect and Tolerance
The population of Manor Wood Primary is culturally and economically diverse. As a school we are proud to promote and celebrate our different backgrounds and beliefs. Mutual respect is at the heart of our aims and ethos. Our pupils know and understand that they are expected to show respect to everyone, whatever differences they may have. They are also taught to respect the school environment and the world around them. Children learn that their behaviour choices have an effect on school and society and that they must be equipped with the skills to make the right choices.
Pupils’ understanding and respect for different faiths and beliefs are as developed through aspects of the curriculum including:
The hidden curriculum
The Buddy System, School’s Councillors and RP Reps.
In addition, to assemblies and open days for parents with a focus on different cultural celebrations some year groups are involved in “Black History Month” and others visit diverse places of religious worship.
All adults model the appropriate behaviour and the school challenges anyone at any level who is intolerant, disrespectful or behaves in a way which is contrary to the ethos Manor . The school’s ethos is shared with parents / carers through twice monthly Headteacher’s newsletters, letters from staff and assemblies.