British Values at St Catherine's
In June 2014, the Prime Minister 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.
Although in 2014-15 this was something which was developing in its significance for schools, it was not something new at St Catherine's. British values are promoted in much of what we do, during school assemblies, Religious Education and Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) sessions. The values are also integral to our vision and values.
As well as actively promoting British values, the opposite also applies: we would actively challenge pupils, staff or parents expressing opinions contrary to fundamental British values, including ‘extremist’ views.
The British values we espouse are not unique to Britain. We acknowledge that they differ in no way from the values of the many countries and the cultural backgrounds represented by families at St Catherine's
Below are just a few examples of how we promote British values.
Being part of Britain
As a school, we value and celebrate the diverse heritages of everybody at St Catherine's. Alongside this, we value and celebrate being part of Britain. In general terms, this means that we celebrate traditions and customs in the course of the year; for example, Harvest Festival during the autumn term. We also value and celebrate national events, such as St George's Day, the Queen's official birthday and Royal Weddings.
Democracy is central to how we operate here at St Catherine's. Children, parents and staff have many opportunities for their voices to be heard and influence positive change.
An obvious example is our School Council. The election of the School Council members 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 boxes etc. Made up of two representatives from each class, the School Council meets regularly to discuss issues raised by the different classes. The council has its own budget and is able to effect change within the school. The Council are actively involved in recruitment and in providing teachers with feedback.
Another example of ‘pupil voice’ is:
Children are asked to respond and reflect on the teaching and learning they receive as well as make suggestions for the School Council to consider.
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 at a level appropriate to their understanding. 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.
Parents’ opinions are welcomed at St Catherine's through methods such as questionnaires, surveys at parents’ evenings and our Friends of St Catherine's Council, with parent representatives from across the school.
Within our school we have a variety of groups such as the School Council, House teams, Sports teams, Choir and our band.
Our parents are all part of the Friends of St Catherine's who actively support the school in many ways including volunteering in classes and fundraising.
Our Governing Body meet regularly and continually evaluate our effectiveness, challenging and supporting staff, to ensure we provide the best possible education for our children.
Every member of St Catherine's Primary school is aware of their responsibilities to act as a role model for our children. They acknowledge and understand the crucial importance of treating each other with respect and setting a good example of the values, attitudes, and behaviours, associated with their role, within the school team both inside school and in their own lives.
Quality of teaching, learning and assessment
Here at St Catherine's we ensure our children are ready for the next step of their lives and education through our relentless pursuit of high standards in Reading Writing and Maths which are evident across the whole curriculum.
There are many opportunities to reinforce British Values and learn about being part of Britain from different perspectives throughout the curriculum. Two specific examples of when we teach about being part of Britain are:
Our rivers, coasts and seaside holiday topics ensure that children have a better understanding of what Britain is, learning more about:
- its coasts, rivers and mountains
- where Britain is in relation to the rest of Europe and other countries in the world
Key moments in British history are studied in the topics such as The Great Fire of London and significant historical figures including Florence Nightingale.
As a Catholic community we dedicated 10% of our teaching time to Religious Education including learning about and from other faiths encouraging tolerance.
Personal development, behaviour & welfare
Our children do well in their personal development due to the on-going work to help them recognise their rights and responsibilities in society.
The children learn to make informed choices throughout their time at St Catherine's and on a daily basis.
We believe our children have the right to be listened to and their voice heard.
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 the school rules and class routines, 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
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, we provide boundaries for our 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 PSHE lessons.
Mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs
We are proud to promote and celebrate our different backgrounds and beliefs. Tolerance, politeness and mutual respect are at the heart of our aims and ethos. We empower our pupils are able to live and work alongside people from all backgrounds and cultures. This will be particularly necessary in a future where due to technological advances will make the 'world a smaller place.'
Our pupils know and understand that it is expected that respect is shown to everyone and to everything, whatever differences we may have. Children learn that their behaviour choices have an effect on their own rights and those of others. All members of the school community are encouraged to treat each other with respect.
Specific examples of how we at St Catherine's Primary School enhance pupils’ understanding and respect for different faiths and beliefs are:
- through Religious Education, PSHE and other lessons where we develop awareness and appreciation of other cultures – in English through fiction and in art and music by considering cultures from other parts of the world.
- Celebrating cultural differences through assemblies, themed weeks, noticeboards and displays.
Whilst instances contrary to our values are relatively rare, no school can guarantee that there will never be instances which are contrary to our values. Each is treated seriously, in line with our policies and expectations.