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 Joseph’s Catholic Primary School these values are reinforced regularly and in the following ways:
In our school, children have many opportunities for their voices to be heard. We have a Junior Leadership Team (JLT) which meets regularly to discuss any issues or ideas raised in classes. The council has its own budget and is able to genuinely effect change within the school. The members of the JLT have to make a choice about whether they would like to be considered for the role, then they have to apply and be interviewed. The Chair and Vice Chair who served on the JLT previously are part of the interview panel and have a say in the appointment of the members.
The JLT have a suggestion box on their designated display board and children can make suggestions which the JLT then review and pass on to the relevant staff as appropriate. They have been influential in a range of ways including contributing to the school dinner menu and purchasing new playtime equipment as a result of surveys carried out across school.
At the start of each year the children decide on their class rules based on the school rules and our Mission. They then choose which are the most important for them as a group.
Each class is also given £50 at the start of the year as a ‘class budget’. Throughout the year our children are expected to take care of their class equipment and any that is wasted or misused will be replaced from the £50. Any money left (or all) at the end of the year from the £50 can be spent on whatever the class decides. Previous choices have included a picnic; a pyjama DVD afternoon with snack; a visit from the ice cream van with extended play and indoor playtime games.
Our children are also given the opportunity to choose a personal target for themselves based on whatever they feel they need to improve. These may include to improve handwriting, to achieve a pen license or to listen more carefully. Once a personal target is achieved the child receives a certificate in celebration assembly shared by the school community.
We are committed to supporting charities in our school and fundraise for many causes. Each class chooses what they would like to fundraise for and many of our children initiate schemes to achieve their goals. We also respond to need as it occurs and the children are instrumental in this.
Children have an annual questionnaire with which they are able to put forward their views about 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, as well as when dealing with behaviour and through school worship and 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 and the annual Year 6 visit to the Magistrates Court in Halifax enables the children to see how the law works in action.
Within school, our children 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. Our children are encouraged to know, understand and exercise their rights and personal freedoms and advised how to exercise these safely eg: through our E-Safety and RE lessons, in worship and in assemblies. They also understand the right of others to make their own choices and to celebrate the ways in which we are the same and different. Our children understand they make many choices daily in their lives and that while we as adults can guide them, ultimately the choice made is theirs. We do ask however, that they remain aware of how the choices they make will affect others.
As a faith community, love and mutual respect is at the heart of our values. Jesus said 'Love one another as I have loved you!'
Our children learn that their behaviour impacts on their own rights and those of others. All members of the school community treat each other with respect and we work hard to live out our school motto: Love, Learn and Live in Christ. Our motto was created by previous Year 6 class and voted for by the rest of the school.
Tolerance of those of Different Faiths and Beliefs
Our school is situated in an area which is not greatly culturally diverse, therefore we place a great emphasis on promoting diversity with the children. Worship and 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 curriculum reinforces this. Any children of other faiths are encouraged to share their knowledge to enhance learning within classes and the school. Our Year 5 class visits places of worship that are important to different faiths such as St Anne’s Cathedral in Leeds and a synagogue and this year we will be taking them to a mosque.
We also endeavour to create ways in which our children can mix with children of other faiths through our Catholic Cluster of schools either at other schools or by inviting their children to come and visit us.
We know our children well and work hard to use their personal interests to reiterate the message of diversity through other means also, such as tolerance and respect for those who support different football teams to them. Many of our children are passionate about football and their favourite team and intolerance is often borne out of passion without reason or understanding, so we work hard to ensure our children are well equipped to cope with this in a mature and tolerant way.
At St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School we will actively challenge pupils, staff, governors or parents expressing opinions contrary to fundamental British Values, including ‘extremist’ views.