Promoting British Values
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 were reiterated in 2014. At St Michael’s these values are reinforced regularly in the following ways:
Pupil voice is significant at St Michael’s and pupils have the opportunity to have their voices heard in many ways. Pupils are 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 sense of both personal and social responsibility and is demonstrated on a daily basis by our pupils.
Children’s Learning Team - The representatives are elected by their class peers and are involved in making the school a better place to learn. They discuss elements of the school development plan as a team, gather information from classes and provide feedback to staff.
Class Learning Forums – The nature of these class discussions can be in response to an issue from within the class or an issue coming centrally through the Children’s Learning Team. Here children raise an issue/problem that is impacting on learning in the class, discuss and offer solutions. They then select and sign up to trying a couple of the solutions, identifying success criteria. This is reviewed at the next learning forum. The teacher facilitates this.
Termly Learning Conferences – a three way learning conversation between child, parent and teacher, 3 times a year. In preparation for these events the children are conferenced about their learning, with their books, and they decide on next steps for their learning.
Pupil Conferencing – Other opportunities for pupils to be conferenced around their work exist for example within subject monitoring and in planning their curriculum At the start of most topics, children are asked, ‘What do you know?’ ‘What do you want to know?’ and ‘What might your learning look like?’
Pupil questionnaires – pupil voice is also sought through questionnaires.
We know that the active participation of our pupils in their school will sow the seeds for a more sophisticated understanding of democracy in the future.
We invest a great deal of time in creating a positive culture in our school. Alongside rules and laws, we promote freedom of choice and the right to respectfully express views and beliefs; choices and freedoms are encouraged and valued. Pupils are actively encouraged to make choices, through the provision of a safe, supportive environment, an engaging curriculum and an empowering education. As a school we educate and provide boundaries for pupils to make informed choices safely such as choosing the level of challenge they want to progress to in a lesson and taking ownership of their child-led learning through their topic work.
We offer a range of clubs which pupils have the freedom to choose from, based on their interests and skills. Through our e-safety days, we educate children on their rights and personal freedoms as well as supporting them in recognising how to exercise these freedoms safely. In circle times, all children are encouraged to share their feelings in a safe way. Children take responsibility as Peer Mediators to help resolve conflicts and repair relationships. Peer Mediators are available every lunch time for children and offer a safe place for discussions about any play time issues that may have arisen; it is at these meetings that the children’s voices can be heard and an appropriate resolution will be decided on by the children themselves.
At St Michael’s, we believe that valuing choice and freedom in daily school life will foster a value for individual liberty as the children embark on their adult lives.
The Rule of Law
Pupils will encounter rules and laws throughout their entire lives. We want our pupils to understand that whether these laws govern the class, school, neighbourhood or country, they are set for good reasons and must be adhered to. Through SMSC questions and circle times, we allow opportunity to debate and discuss the reasons for laws so that children can recognise the importance of these for their own protection. This is reinforced during Religious Education, when rules for particular faiths are thought about; and during other school subjects, where there is respect and appreciation for different rules e.g. in a sports lesson.
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 living out our values. Rewards are given in the form of stickers, team points and certificates. Achievements are also recognised during Praise Assemblies.
Our system for behaviour is aligned to an agreed set of values. If children do not uphold the values then they are provided with opportunities to make a better choice of behaviour through reminders both non-verbal and verbal. However if unacceptable behaviour persists, there are series of sanctions to support the children in learning that there are consequences to actions and choices that are made.
Throughout the year we welcome visits from members of the wider community including the police, the Navy, war veterans, the fire brigade and many more. We believe that clear explanations and real life stories emphasize the importance of the rule of law for our pupils. Opportunities for children to take more responsibility around the school are encouraged and such roles as Librarians, Register Monitors, Peer Mediators, Play Leaders, Green Team, Wildlife champs are available.
Our school ethos and behaviour policy are based around our core values which are excellence, nurture, respect, integrity, compassion and hope - ENRICH. These values determine how we live as a community within the Christian foundations of the Church of England. Collective Worship is based on our school values which are central to how we expect everyone to go about life in our school. Our SIAMS inspection confirms this is an outstanding aspect of life at our school.
Our pupils know and understand that it is expected and imperative that respect is shown to everyone, whatever differences we may have; and to everything, whether it is a school resource, a religious belief or the natural world.
Through e-Safety days, Anti-Bullying week, the children are taught to value differences in themselves and others and most importantly to show respect to all. As mentioned previously, Peer Mediator meetings facilitate opportunities for children to show respect in each other’s beliefs, feelings and opinions by giving each child a forum to share these on and an expectation that these must be listened to.
The ‘Discovery RE’ curriculum supported by ‘Understanding Christianity’ ensures that all children learn about the main religions and it teaches respect and understanding for the cultures, beliefs, opinions and traditions of others. Through our curriculum and the routines of our daily school life, we strive to demonstrate tolerance and help children to become knowledgeable and understanding citizens who can build a better Britain for the future. We use opportunities such as the Olympics and current news and events from around the world to help the children study and learn about life and cultures in different countries.