British Values at Heath School
In June 2014, David Cameron wrote an article that emphasised the important role that British values can play in education. How well a school promotes such values is now an aspect of Ofsted’s inspection process.
Ofsted defines fundamental British values as
democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs.
At Heath, British values are promoted in so much of what we do, not least during our school assemblies, Religious Education and PSHE lessons. The values taught in these sessions are integral to our school ethos and visual curriculum drivers; they complement British values and always have done.
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.
BEING PART OF BRITAIN
At Heath, we have always celebrated a pattern of traditions and festivals across the year e.g. Harvest Festival, Remembrance Day (our Year 2 and Year 6 children attend an annual ceremony where a wreath is laid at the local war memorial), Easter and Shrove Tuesday to name but a few; we also annually organise a range of Christmas celebrations including a KS1 and Early Years Nativity and trip to a local old people home, where we take our school choir to sing carols. We also invite a theatre company into school every year at Christmas to put on a pantomime for the children – a real celebration of traditional British culture. More recently we have built into our school calendar more modern ‘events’ such as Children in Need, Red Nose Day (Comic Relief), Sports Relief and Roald Dahl day. All of these events are part of our heritage and very much part of our future, and they all help to enhance the children’s experience of school in modern day Britain.
Our curriculum also helps children to understand what it means to be part of Britain. Geographically, we explore the different aspects of the British landscape, and look at how these have changed over time due to both natural forces and the intervention of man. In addition to exploring ‘Natural Britain’, we investigate Britain as a nation; we look at capital cities and counties and look at what constitutes Great Britain, and how this differs from England and the United Kingdom. We also explore our local area and look at how this relates to England and Britain, and then in turn, how Britain relates to Europe and the rest of the world.
Children find out about famous people from Britain’s past and look at the legacies that they have left behind them; they also get to visit a number of culturally significant sites that have had a direct impact on helping to shape Britain into the nation it is today, sites such as Sutton Hoo, Duxford Imperial War Museum, Colchester Castle and the British Museum to name but a few. By exploring Britain’s past, and how it has helped create modern Britain, we hope to enrich our children’s learning experiences and develop their knowledge and understanding of the world they live in.
Children, parents and staff have many opportunities for their voices to be heard at Heath Primary. An obvious example is our School Council. The election of the School Council members reflects our British electoral system and demonstrates democracy in action: candidates make speeches, pupils consider characteristics important for an elected representative, pupils vote in secret using ballot boxes etc. Made up of two representatives from each class, the School Council meets regularly to discuss issues raised by the different classes. The council has its own budget and is able to genuinely effect change within the school; in the past, the School Council has helped to plan improvements to the school’s playground facilities. Another example of ‘pupil voice’ is where we ask children to agree their Class Learning Charter and the rights associated with these; all children contribute to the drawing up of the charter and agree to abide by it.
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.
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. At the start of the school year, each class discusses and sets its own Class Learning Charter, 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, some of which are listed below:
- 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 – in a sports lesson, for example
- e-safety lessons
- Y6 visit to Crucial Crew
- off-site swimming
- PSHE expectations
- rules for outdoor learning
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 and empowering education, and by building positive relationships with all our children, based on mutual respect and trust, we aim to boost children’s self-esteem and give them the confidence to make good choices. Children often find themselves in situations where they will need to make a choice; this may be about how they will complete a task in class, which extra-curricular club they want to attend after school, or what they will do when someone is unkind to them on the playground. Empowering children to make choices that are considered and safe, will help them in myriad situations, both at school and beyond.
MUTUAL RESPECT AND TOLERANCE OF THOSE WITH DIFFERENT FAITHS AND BELIEFS
We believe that it is extremely important that our children have learning experiences that help to develop their understanding of the rich cultural diversity of our country and of British society. One of Heath School’s core curriculum drivers is ‘at Heath we promote mutual respect for one another and the world around us; we celebrate our differences’, and children at our school are taught to appreciate and respect difference in all its forms.
Again, our curriculum helps to support this ethos of mutual respect for one another and the world around us. This theme is central to our PSHE and RE lessons. We also cover many of the issues when studying our different text types and genres in literacy. As a school, we also sponsor the education of two children in Africa, and the school receives regular updates about their progress, which we share with the children.