In June 2014, the then secretary of state for education, Michael Gove, announced that schools would be required to promote British values from September 2014. The Education (Independent School Standards) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2014 for the new social, moral, spiritual and cultural (SMSC) standard came into force on 29 September 2014. The regulations state that to meet the standard for the SMSC development of pupils, independent schools/academies and free schools must actively promote what the Government defines as ‘fundamental British values’: democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs.
A key part of our plan for education at St Joseph’s Primary School has always been to ensure children become valuable and fully rounded members of society who treat others with respect and tolerance, regardless of background. Through SMSC provision and the values of Christ, as witnessed through the Gospels, we actively promote and reinforce these ‘British values’ that have their roots in the Christian values and beliefs that were in existence at the time our country was moving towards a wider understanding of what government and the rights of the people were. At St Joseph’s Primary School we recognise that these values are not uniquely British. The teachings and ideals of Christ, given to us through His Word and His Body, walk hand in hand with these values bringing: Love and Solidarity, Truth and Justice, Purity and Holiness, Dignity and Compassion and Tolerance and Peace. 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. At St Joseph’s Primary School we are guided by our motto which best sums up the ethos of our school:
“We grow and learn together in the footsteps of Jesus”
Together, guided by Christian values of respect, compassion, co-operation and stewardship, we reflect on our place and purpose in the world. We simultaneously celebrate individuality and difference within our communities and share the calling to work for the Common Good, in the service of others.
The examples that follow are just some of the ways that ‘British values’ are embedded into our everyday life and curriculum at St Joseph’s:
At the beginning of the year, each class decide upon their own Class Rules and the rights associated with them. Our School Council is a group of children who act as one voice for the children in the school. Its members are children democratically elected by their fellow classmates to represent them. The School Council is actively involved in developing policies and practices which impact on the day to day practice within the school. A majority vote system is used, so that decisions are made fairly. Pupils have the opportunity to have their voices heard through Class Representatives which feed ideas to the School Council. Children also have an opportunity to express their opinions in Pupil Questionnaires and Pupil Voice. Through the curriculum, the origins of democracy are explored through historical research of Ancient Greece, Roman civilisations, the Monarchy and Government.
The Rule of Law
The importance of Laws, whether they be those that govern the class, the school, or the country, are consistently reinforced every day, as well as when dealing with behaviour and through regular school assemblies. We have high expectations about pupil conduct and this is reflected in our behaviour policy. Pupils draw up their own Class Rules which link to the whole school behaviour policy. We have a house point system in place in the juniors to incentivise excellent behaviour and attitude to learning. The infants use Star of the Week. There are additional rewards for exhibiting responsible actions and respectful behaviour: Gold awards, Golden Diners and Headteacher awards which are all given out during a celebration assembly every week. Through our school’s values, RE curriculum, collective worship and PHSE programme, children are taught how to earn trust and respect and are supported to develop a strong sense of morality; pupils know right from wrong and about making good choices, even when it is difficult. 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. To help us reinforce this message we organise and encourage visits from authorities such as the Community Support Officer; Police and the Fire Service.
Within school, pupils are supported and guided spiritually and morally, learning how to make good effective choices whilst knowing that they are in a safe and supportive environment. Pupils are encouraged to know, understand and exercise their rights and personal freedoms and are advised on how to exercise these safely. This is explored, for example, through our Online Safety curriculum, PSHE lessons and by the provision of a variety of cross-curriculum opportunities. Pupils are encouraged to take opportunities to follow their interests in a range of extra-curricular clubs, art, sports, gardening and the school choir which allow them to exercise their individual choice.
Our Class Rules, as well as our behaviour and anti-bullying policies, are monitored by the School Council. Posters and displays around the school promote British values and increase the children’s knowledge of the importance of mutual respect in school, our local community, nationally and in the wider world. Children are taught to respect each other, to be co-operative and collaborative and to look for similarities while being understanding of differences. We care and support one another, pray for one another, show respect for one another and love one another.
Respecting All Faiths
The development of pupils’ understanding of their place in a culturally diverse society and by giving them opportunities to experience such diversity is very important at St Joseph’s. Our RE scheme of work follows the teaching of the Church in providing a broad and balanced education, which includes an understanding of and respect for people of other faiths or none and other cultures and lifestyles. Children learn about different religions, their beliefs, places of worship and festivals. Assemblies, themed weeks and workshops offer pupils enriched experiences to deepen their understanding, tolerance and knowledge of our culturally diverse community. The school celebrates the many languages spoken by our pupils, e.g. through responding in their choice of language for class registration; through sharing prayers in collective worship, through interaction with visitors, and on trips. Members of different faiths or religions are made welcome and encouraged to share their knowledge to enhance learning within classes and the school.
Our school is aware of the need to be vigilant when it comes to extreme attitudes or behaviour of any kind and appropriate actions will be taken accordingly. All staff is aware of the need to alert the designated safeguarding officers if they have any concerns. The designated safeguarding officers have attended Prevent training and are aware of their role if they are alerted to a concern. Our overriding aim is to teach children to be resilient to such attitudes. This involves pupils being taught how to ask probing questions and make sound judgements for themselves about what is right and wrong.