In 2011, the DfE 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 promotion of ‘British values’ is central to our Catholic education as British values have their origin in the Christian values of our nation.
We place a significant emphasis on the celebration of individuality and difference within our communities and our calling to work for the Common Good, in the service of others. Our Catholic ethos, which includes explicit reference to Christian and British values, makes a tangible difference to the way we work together and with our wider communities.
Gospel values are at the heart of our Federation and are part of its distinctive nature. The Gospel values are not only compatible with fundamental British values but also add an extra dimension to the formation of pupils. Whilst fundamental British values will enable pupils to make a positive and worthwhile contribution to modern Britain as they grow, the Gospel values will support them in their individual faith journeys so the contribution they make will be as Catholic people, faithful to the Church, in all works of life.
All adults listen to the views of the pupils and respect their opinions. Pupils are actively involved in agreeing classroom rules and understand the rewards of following agreed rules and the consequences of failing to adhere to the rules that have been agreed. Every child is given the opportunity to feed ideas into our School Council. Each class elects School Council representatives at the start of the year. Classes discuss key issues and then agree on class proposals that are presented during the School Council meeting by their class representatives. The School Council minutes are discussed within each class and identified issues or initiatives are often developed further as themes for whole school assemblies. Our commitment to a democratic approach runs through all aspects of school life. Further elections of ECO Council and Spiritual Leaders/Chaplains are the result of pupil votes.
We listen to Parent Voice as well. Parent questionnaires are completed regularly, and pupils have the opportunity to complete questionnaires in different areas of the curriculum and their general learning.
The Rule of Law
We consistently reinforce our high expectations of children. 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. 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, children are actively encouraged to make choices knowing that they are unique individuals able to make a unique contribution to building school community in a safe and supportive environment. Across the Federation, we educate and provide boundaries for young children to make choices safely, through our provision of a safe enabling environment and effective teaching. Children are encouraged to know, understand and exercise their rights and personal freedoms through our E-Safety, RE, PSHE and Relationships lessons. They are able to comment on their learning and respond to the teacher comments, have a choice of learning challenge, of how they record, of participation in our extra-curricular clubs and opportunities, to name a few.
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. Pupils and staff alike model respect. The schools promote respect for others and this is reinforced through assemblies, our classroom and learning environments as well as extra-curricular activities such as sport and music. Our school’s ethos and Behaviour Policy are based on Gospel values, with honesty, courtesy, kindness, perseverance and respect in its core. In line with our commitment to democracy, pupils are always able to voice their opinions as we foster an environment where they can debate ideas and are safe to disagree with each other. We encourage pupils to communicate honestly and openly and to understand the value of co-operation and consensus as well as decision making through voting. Our emphasis on fairness and justice means that we ask our pupils to ensure that they look out for those who might be marginalised and disadvantaged. We work hard to promote anti-bullying through a focus on strategies to enable respect for difference and tolerance.
Tolerance of those of Different Faiths and Beliefs
Our federated schools are situated in an area which is culturally diverse, therefore we place a great emphasis on promoting diversity with the children. Assemblies are regularly planned to address this issue either directly or through the inclusion of stories and celebrations from a variety of faiths and cultures. Our RE, PSHE and Relationships 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.
Pupils are reminded that Jesus encouraged tolerance in stories such as The Good Samaritan and The Woman at the Well. Pupils have the opportunity to share their cultural traditions and costumes and try different foods from other cultures and we encourage parents and carers to participate and support our multi-cultural events, including International Day.
The examples that are mentioned above are an indication of some of the many ways we seek to embed British values at our schools and should be seen as an indication of our approach rather than an exhaustive list. We recognise, not only the importance of helping pupils to flourish academically but also spiritually, morally, socially and culturally, so they are fully prepared for life in British society. We teach the importance of British Values by going much deeper into the meaning of what it means to live a good life, within a framework of Catholic Christian Values. This provides the context and meaning for understanding why British values are important. Our framework for understanding British values draws on the example of Jesus and his welcome and inclusion of all, which is developed in Catholic Social Teaching.