In June 2014, 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 process.
It is not something new at West Byfleet Junior School that British values are promoted in so much of what we do, For instance during school assemblies,as part of Religious Education and PSHE sessions. The values are integral to our long-standing vision and values which complements British values and always has done.
The term ‘British values’ might be slightly misleading in that these values are integral to so many countries throughout the world – they differ in no way from the values of most western European countries, for example.
Below are just a few examples of how we promote British values. The first section is a general overview; the others are specific expectations set out by Ofsted.
Being part of Britain
As a school, we value and celebrate the diverse heritages of everybody at West Byfleet. Alongside this, we value and celebrate being part of Britain. In general terms, this means that we celebrate traditions, such as customs in the course of the year; for example, Harvest festival during the Autumn term, also value and celebrate national events, a recent example being First World War Anniversary.(this included a whole school minutes silence and special assembly, poems being created by the children)
Further, children learn about being part of Britain from different specific perspectives. A specific example of when we teach about being part of Britain are:
Historically: Great British Monarchs is a Year 4 topic in the autumn term which happens every year. The main focus is British history. During the topic, children learn about an aspect life and how this has developed and changed over time. The actual topic depends on the interests of the children (and teacher!), but might include inventions and discoveries, or houses, or medicine and always a lot about Tudor monarchs, culminating in the latter part of the term with a 3 day residential to Hooke Court.
Another example is Year 6 studying about the Industrial Revolution.
Children, parents and staff have many opportunities for their voices to be heard at West Byfleet Junior School. Democracy is central to how we operate.
An obvious example is the election of our pupil Heads and Deputies. The election of the these pupils 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 . Made up of two representatives from each class, the School Council meets regularly and is another example of pupils having an opportunity 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 contributed to items for the children at playtime and raised valuable funds for charity.The Council are actively involved in recruitment of staff and help in the survey of pupils about Bullying.
Other examples of ‘pupil voice’ are:
- children agree their Class Charter and the rights associated with these; all children contribute to the drawing up of the charter
- children nominate various charities, then within their own class, select two to go forward to the School Council, who then vote to decide two school charities which we support over the course of two years
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 hightened 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 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:
- 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
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, 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
West Byfleet is in an area which is mainly white, British population but our school is culturally diverse and we are proud to promote and celebrate our different backgrounds and beliefs. Mutual respect is at the heart of our aims and values – A consideration for others.
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 whatever. 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 West Byfleet enhance pupils understanding and respect for different faiths and beliefs are:
- through Religious Education, SEAL and other lessons where we might develop awareness and appreciation of other cultures – in English through fiction and in Art by considering culture from other parts of the world, for example
Sadly, no school can guarantee that there will never be instances which are contrary to this value. At West Byfleet Junior school, such instances are extremely rare. They are treated seriously in line with our School Behaviour policy.