The Department for Education state that there is a 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 by the Prime Minister David Cameron in June 2014.
How well a school promotes such values is also an aspect of Ofsted’s inspection process (September 2014): “ensure that they and the school promote tolerance of and respect for people of all faiths (or those of no faith), cultures and lifestyles; and support and help, through their words, actions and influence within the school and more widely in the community, to prepare children and young people positively for life in modern Britain.”
We value the importance of and support the current Ofsted guidance. As educators we recognise we have a duty to prepare our children for life in modern Britain and to keep them safe. The British values are:
- The Rule of Law
- Individual Liberty
- Mutual Respect
- Tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs
Although in 2014-15 this is something which is developing in significance for schools, it is not something new at Outwood Primary Academy. British values are reinforced regularly and promoted in many aspects of what we do including through assemblies, RE and SEAL sessions and are integral to our published school vision, values and expectations.
As well as actively promoting British values, the opposite also applies too. In line with our Equality, Anti – Bullying and SRE policy, we would actively challenge pupils, staff, Governors Trust members or parents expressing opinions contrary to fundamental British values, including ‘extremist’ views.
The term ‘British values’ may be slightly misleading in that the values are integral to many countries throughout the world and differ in no way from the values of most western European countries.
At Outwood Primary Academy, we value and celebrate the diverse heritages of our whole community. We also value and celebrate being part of Britain. This means that we celebrate traditions such as Harvest festival during the Autumn term and a traditionally British experience of a pantomime at Christmas! We also value and celebrate national events including celebrating the Royal wedding (and subsequent Royal baby!) in 2011, the London Olympics in 2012 and the centenary of WW1 in 2014.
Children learn about being part of Britain from different perspectives including through history and geography.
Through geography children develop a better understanding of what Britain is, learning more about capital cities, counties, rivers and mountains and how Great Britain differs from England and the United Kingdom and where Britain is in relation to the rest of Europe and other countries in the world.
Children find time travelling through history thoroughly enjoyable and a main focus is often British history. Through studying history, children learn about aspects of life during a period of time and how this has developed and changed through the ages. History topics may include inventions, discoveries, homes and medicines.
At Outwood Primary Academy children, parents and staff have many opportunities for their voice to be heard as democracy is central to our work.
The democratic election of the School Council reflects the British electoral system where candidates make speeches and pupils consider characteristics important for an elected representative before voting using secret ballot boxes. The School Council has two representatives from each class and meet regularly to discuss issues raised by the classes. The School Council has purchased lunchtime equipment, chosen equipment to purchase with PTFA funds and they are actively involved in showing visitors round school and giving their independent view of life at OPALHG. We see democracy in action when children nominate various charities annually, then, within their own class, select those to present to the School Council, who then vote to nominate some of the school charities which we support over the course of a year.
There are many other examples of ‘pupil voice’ at Outwood Primary Academy Lofthouse gate including at the beginning of the year all children in each class agree their Class Charter and the rights associated with these and, through pupil feedback meetings with staff, 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 voice heard. We encourage pupils to take ownership not only of our school, but also of their own learning and progress. This encourages personal and social responsibility and is demonstrated on a daily basis by our pupils.
The importance of rules and laws, including those that govern our school or country, are referred to and reinforced regularly through assemblies and when reflecting on appropriate behaviour choices.
At the start of each school year, each class discusses and sets its own Class 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. They understand that laws govern and protect us and understand the responsibilities that this involves, and the consequences when they are broken. These values are reinforced in different ways including visits from such as police and fire authorities, during Religious Education when rules for different faiths are thought about and during other subjects, e.g. PE, Learning Outside the classroom, where there is respect and appreciation for different rules and risks to manage safely.
Alongside rules and laws, we promote freedom of choice and the right to respectfully express views and beliefs. Pupils 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 pupils to make choices safely, through provision of a safe environment and empowering education. Pupils are encouraged to know, understand and exercise their rights and personal freedoms and advised how to exercise these safely, for example through our E-Safety, SEAL and PSHE lessons. Whether it be through choice of learning challenge, of how they record, of participation in our numerous extra-curricular clubs and opportunities, pupils are given the freedom to make choices.
Mutual respect is at the heart of our aims and values and we are proud to promote and celebrate our different backgrounds and beliefs. Outwood Primary Academy is situated in an area which is not vastly culturally diverse; therefore we place great emphasis on promoting diversity with the children.
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 ranging from school equipment to religious beliefs. Children learn that their behaviour choices have an effect on their own rights and those of others. All members of the school community treat each other with respect.
Specific examples of how we enhance understanding and respect for different faiths and beliefs include:
- RE, PSHE, SEAL and other lessons develop awareness and appreciation of other cultures
- in English through fiction and in Art by considering culture from other parts of the world
- assemblies are regularly planned to address the fact that the school is not richly culturally diverse either directly or through the inclusion of stories and celebrations from a variety of faiths and cultures
- members of different faiths / religions are encouraged to share their knowledge to enhance learning within classes and the school
- visits to places of worship that are important to different faiths are planned and encouraged
The Trust and Governing Body at Outwood Primary Academy Lofthouse Gate endorse what, and how, the school is promoting British Values but also recognise that, sadly, no school can guarantee that there will never be instances which are contrary to this value.
However, at OPALG, such instances are extremely rare and we will actively challenge pupils, staff, Governors or parents expressing opinions contrary to fundamental British Values, including ‘extremist’ views.
All staff have received the relevant training to enable them to clearly identify any issues and respond to them appropriately.