One of our previous prime ministers, David Cameron emphasised the important role that British values can play in education. Further, how well a school promotes such values is an aspect of Ofsted's inspection framework. The Government set out its definition of British Values in the 2011 Prevent Strategy.
British Values are promoted in so much of what we do, not least during our Religious Education, school assemblies, and Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL). Our school values are integral to our Vision and Mission Statements.
Being a part of Modern Britain
As a school, we value and celebrate the diverse heritages of everybody at St Monica’s. Alongside this, we value and celebrate being part of Britain. This means that we celebrate traditions of our faith and customs in the course of the year such as Harvest Festival during the Autumn term. We also celebrate and remember national events, a recent example being the Centenary of the Great War.
Further, our children learn about being part of Britain from different specific perspectives. Two specific examples of when we teach about being part of Britain are:
- Geographically: Learning about our local area and community, The British Isles and our monthly General Knowledge Quiz. This will ensure that our children will have a better understanding of what Britain is by learning about:
- its capital cities and counties, its rivers and mountains
- how ‘Great Britain’ differs from ‘England’ and ‘the United Kingdom' - see below
- where Britain is in relation to the rest of Europe and others countries in the world
- Historically: Learning about historical timelines such as the Tudors and the Victorian Era. As part of our ongoing commitment to a broad, enriched and balanced curriculum, Time Travel will be a whole-school topic which will take place every two years. The main focus will be British history. During the topic, children will learn about an aspect of life and how this has developed and changed over time.
Children, parents and staff have many opportunities for their voices to be heard at St Monica’s. Democracy is central to how we operate. An obvious example is our School Council as well as our School Prefects. The election of the School Council and School Prefect members reflect our British electoral system and demonstrates democracy in action.
Candidates make speeches, pupils consider characteristics important for an elected representative and pupils vote. Made up of two representatives from each class, the School Council meets regularly to discuss issues raised by different classes. The Council is actively involved in recruitment and in providing teachers with feedback, such as providing a review of themed weeks and is able to genuinely effect change within the school.
Other examples of ‘pupil voice’ are:
- production of a termly pupil magazine entirely by pupils, aptly titled 'One Voice'
- inviting the local MP to speak to the pupils about current issues and visiting Parliament
- Holding 'mock' elections
- children agree on their Class Rules and the rights associated with these; all children contribute to the drawing up of the rules
- using Pupil Feedback forms, children are asked to respond and reflect on the teaching and learning
- 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 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 Rules, 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:
- visits from authorities such as the police and fire service
- during Religious Education particularly when we learn about other faiths
- during other school subjects, where there is respect and appreciation for different rules – in a sports lesson, for example we discuss the importance of sportsmanship.
Alongside rules and laws, we promote freedom of choice and the right to respectfully express views. Through the provision of a safe, supportive environment and empowering education, we provide boundaries for our young pupils to make choices safely; for example:
- choices about what learning challenge or activity
- choices about how they record their learning
- 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 SEAL lessons.
Mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs
St Monica's is a community which is greatly culturally diverse and we are proud to promote and celebrate our different backgrounds. Mutual respect is at the heart of our Mission Statement. 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. Our children learn that their behaviour choices have an effect on their own rights and those of others. All members of the school community should treat each other with respect.
Specific examples of how we at St Monica's enhance pupils understanding and respect for others are:
- By explaining how Jesus encouraged tolerance in stories such as The Good Samaritan and The Woman at the Well
- through the teachings of Jesus Christ inspired by Christian values, SEAL and other lessons where we might develop awareness and appreciation of other cultures "that every person is unique and created in the image of God"
- enjoying a depth of study during our Themed Weeks, where sometimes we will celebrate and enjoy learning about the differences in countries and cultures around the world