The Department for Education has published guidance (27 November 2014) on promoting British values in schools to ensure young people leave school prepared for life in modern Britain.
The guidance aims to help both independent and state-maintained schools understand their responsibilities in this area. All have a duty to ‘actively 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. These values were first set out by the government in the ‘Prevent’ strategy in 2011.
All schools must have a clear strategy for embedding these values and show how their work with pupils has been effective in doing so. In a letter to the Education Select Committee, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Schools Lord Nash explained the changes were designed to “tighten up the standards on pupil welfare to improve safeguarding, and the standards on spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils to strengthen the barriers to extremism”.
Ofsted and the independent inspectorates now take the work of schools in this area into account during inspections.
The values are:
The rule of law
Tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs and those without faith.
Schools also have a “due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”. This duty is known as the Prevent duty and was published in July 2015. In order for schools and childcare providers to fulfil the Prevent duty, it is essential that staff are able to identify children who may be vulnerable to radicalisation, and know what to do when they are identified. Schools and childcare providers can build pupils’ resilience to radicalisation by promoting fundamental British values and enabling them to challenge extremist views. It is important to emphasise that the Prevent duty is not intended to stop pupils debating controversial issues.
At St Joseph’s Convent Preparatory School, we are committed to serving our school community and the surrounding area. We recognise the multi-cultural, multi faith and ever-changing nature of the United Kingdom, and therefore those it serves.
As a Catholic School we actively promote values that shape our pupil’s character and moral perspective, through the teachings of the Church. We are confident that our continued focus on the Gospel Values will give our pupils the necessary awareness of what it means to be a good citizen in Britain today, and embed in them the building blocks of a future successful and productive life.
Through RE, PSHE and our creative curriculum, we are able to make real links between the values of our pupils and the lives of others in their community, country and the world in general. The list below outlines examples of when and where such British Values are shared. The list is not exhaustive, and represents only some of what we do.
Democracy is rife within the school. Pupils have the opportunity to have their voices heard throughout the school day and through our Pupil Council. Our School Council meets regularly to discuss issues raised and they shared these with the SLT. The elections of our School Councils, as well as House Captains, are based on pupil votes. Each year the children decide on their class rules and the rights associated with these. At St Joseph’s Convent Preparatory School pupils learn about their local community and the local council, and find out about how local democracy works and how they can contribute.
The Rule of Law
The importance of laws, whether they be those that govern the class, the school, or the country, are consistently reinforced throughout regular school days, as well as when dealing with behaviour and through school assemblies. Pupils are taught from an early age about the rules of our school. 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. Pupils learn about rules and how laws are made in a democracy. They develop their appreciation of why we need rules to protect rights and how they help us at home, at school, and in our wider community.
Within school, pupils are actively encouraged to make their own choices, knowing that they are in a safe and supportive environment. As a school, we educate and provide boundaries for young pupils to make independent decisions. Pupils are encouraged to know, understand and exercise their rights and personal freedoms and advise how to exercise these safely, for example through our E-Safety and PSHE/Wellbeing lessons. Whether it be through choice of challenge or of participation in our numerous extra-curricular clubs and other opportunities, pupils are given the freedom to make choices.
Part of our school ethos and behaviour policy has revolved around Core Values such as ‘Respect’, and pupils have been part of discussions and assemblies related to what this means and how it is shown. The school promotes respect for others and this is reiterated through our classroom and learning rules, as well as our behaviour policy. In PE and Sports Day we promote the concept of ‘fair play’, following and developing rules, inclusion, celebrating and rewarding success, being noble in defeat and participation in activities that promote understanding and affiliation with others.
The Jubilant at St Joseph’s initiative recognises those who make the right choices to be a good citizen with a weekly Headteachers Award. The categories awarded include collaboration, compassion, creativity, curiosity, determination, friendship, independence, resilience, and responsibility.
Tolerance of those of Different Faiths and Beliefs and those without Faith
This is achieved through enhancing pupils understanding of their place in a culturally diverse society and by giving them opportunities to experience such diversity. Assemblies and discussions involving prejudices and prejudice-based bullying have been followed and supported by learning in RE and PSHE/Wellbeing. During our ‘Other Faiths Weeks’ members of different faiths or religions are encouraged to share their knowledge to enhance learning within classes and the school. Open discussions during Other Faiths Weeks help our pupils to learn tolerance and to respect the diversity found in modern Britain.