The Department for Education have recently emphasised the important role that British values can play in education and 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 were reiterated in 2014. At Neville’s Cross British Values are promoted in much of what we do, during school assemblies, Religious Education and Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) sessions. The values are also integral to our vision and values.
As well as actively promoting British Values, the opposite also applies: we would actively challenge pupils, staff or parents expressing opinions contrary to fundamental British Values, including ‘extremist’ views.
The British values we promote are not unique to Britain. We acknowledge that they differ in no way from the values of the many countries and the cultural backgrounds represented by families at Neville’s Cross.
Below are just a few 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 everybody at Neville’s Cross. Alongside this, we value and celebrate living in, and being part of, Britain. In general terms, this means that we celebrate traditions and customs in the course of the year; for example, Harvest Festival during the autumn term; Remembrance Day; our annual carol service and infant nativity at Christmas; Easter, etc. We also value and celebrate national events such as royal celebrations, a general election and a recent example being the 100th anniversary of the start of World War One.
Children also learn about being part of Britain from different perspectives. All of our classes are named after castles in the north east of England. Children are taught about these heritage sites. Two specific examples of when we teach about being part of Britain are:
Geographically: Our rivers, coasts and seaside holiday topics ensure that children have a better understanding of what Britain is, learning more about:
- its coasts, rivers and mountains
- where Britain is in relation to the rest of Europe and other countries in the world
Historically: Key moments in British history are studied in the topics such as the Great Fire of London and significant historical figures such Guy Fawkes and Grace Darling.
Children, parents and staff have many opportunities for their voices to be heard at Neville’s Cross Primary School. Democracy is central to how we operate.
An obvious example is our structure of Class Councils. Each class elects its own Class Council Chairperson and Secretary reflecting our British electoral system and demonstrating democracy in action. In KS2 interested children write their own speeches persuading others in their class to vote for them. Children are elected fairly and pupils are able to consider characteristics important for an elected representative; pupils vote in secret using ballot boxes etc. Class Councils meet regularly to discuss issues raised by class members. Representatives from classes meet with the head teacher to discuss ideas and suggestions brought forward.
Pupils have been actively involved in staff recruitment and regularly put forward suggestions to the PTA on how to spend its funds. Elected pupils are enthusiastically involved in the School Meal Interest Group putting forward suggestions for the improvement of school meals and lunchtime routines.
Pupils 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. We encourage pupils to take ownership of not only their school but also of their own learning and progress. This encourages a heightened sense of both personal and social responsibility and is demonstrated on a daily basis by our pupils.
Parents’ opinions are welcomed at Neville’s Cross through methods such as questionnaires and surveys and working groups for areas such as anti-bullying and food education. There are also opportunities to comment on our school website and Facebook page.
Rules and Laws
The importance of rules and laws, whether they be those that govern our school or our country, are referred to and reinforced often, such as in assemblies and when reflecting on behaviour choices. Pupils are taught from an early age the rules of the school. At the start of the school year, each class discusses the school rules and class routines, 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 thought about
- during other school subjects, where there is respect and appreciation for different rules
To encourage and promote good behaviour, attitude and work, we have devised a reward system which is consistently followed throughout the school. We are committed to praising children’s efforts. We endeavour to praise the children informally, individually, during group work, in front of the whole class and the whole school.
Children are rewarded not only for achievement in curriculum areas, but for behaviour and general adherence to the school or class rules. Rewards are given in the form of stickers, certificates and the collection of ‘stamps’ to achieve a good behaviour prize. Children’s (and staff’s) achievements are recognised during our weekly awards assembly and our playtime guardians also present playtime awards to children of their choosing.
Alongside rules and laws, we promote freedom of choice and the right to respectfully express views and beliefs. Through the provision of a safe, supportive environment, we provide boundaries for our pupils to make choices safely. For example:
- choices about what learning challenge or activity they will complete
- choices about how they record their learning
- choices about which ideas they vote for in class council
- choice regarding the school lunch menu
- choices around the 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, such as in our e-safety and PSHE lessons. They also understand that with rights come responsibilities.
Mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs
Neville’s Cross serves an area which is culturally diverse and we are proud to promote and celebrate our different backgrounds and beliefs. Tolerance, politeness and mutual respect are at the heart of our aims and ethos. As a school we work closely with families from different faiths in order to ensure that all children are included.
Our pupils are able to live and work alongside people from all backgrounds and cultures. This will be particularly necessary in a future where due to technological advances will make the ‘world a smaller place.’
Our pupils know and understand that it is expected that respect is shown to everyone and to everything, whatever differences we may have. Children learn that their behaviour choices have an effect on their own rights and those of others. All members of the school community are encouraged to treat each other with respect.
Specific examples of how we at Neville’s Cross Primary School enhance pupils’ understanding and respect for different faiths and beliefs are:
- through Religious Education, PSHE and other lessons where we develop awareness and appreciation of other cultures including visiting places of worship that are important to different faiths
- in English through fiction
- in art and music by considering cultures from other parts of the world
- across the curriculum, providing pupils with the opportunity to learn how to argue and defend points of view in English, history, geography, PSHE, digital literacy, etc
- celebrating cultural differences through assemblies, themed weeks, noticeboards and displays.
Whilst instances contrary to our values are relatively rare, no school can guarantee that there will never be instances which are contrary to our values. Each is treated seriously in line with our policies and expectations.
Our Promoting British Values overview can be found viewed or downloaded by clicking the link below: