The Department of Education has recently reinforced the 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 have been reiterated by the Prime Minister this year. At Woodfield Infant School these values are reinforced regularly and in the following ways:
Children are actively encouraged to have a voice and share their views and opinions regularly. Our active school council is one such example. Every September we have an election week when the candidates for class representatives on the school council pitch their election manifesto to the rest of their class. A secret ballot ensues and the results are announced in a special assembly. The children love this process and have great respect for the outcomes. The school council representatives (2 per class from Reception to Year 2) meet every three weeks and take the ideas from the meeting back to their classes for discussion.
Every child also contributes their ideas to the composition of their own class charter every year. This sets ground rules for classroom conduct and establishes the standards of behaviour children can expect from each other over the year ahead. Year 2 pupils also complete an annual questionnaire which provides them with the opportunity to share their views of learning at Woodfield and suggest ways in which the school could be improved further.
Governors also talk regularly to children to establish their views as a way of ensuring that school self-evaluation is robust and accurate, and therefore effective in moving the school forward.
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 the school day, as well as when dealing with behaviour and through school assemblies. Children 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. Our schools rules, rewards and sanctions, referred to regularly and consistently upheld are a practical example of this.
Visits from authorities such as the Police and Fire Service help reinforce this message.
Within school, children are actively encouraged to make decisions and choices, knowing that they are in a safe and supportive environment. As a school we educate and provide boundaries for young children to take risks and make choices safely. Children are encouraged to know, understand and exercise their rights and personal freedoms, how to exercise these safely, for example through our E-Safety and PSHE lessons.
Mutual respect is at the heart of everything we do at Woodfield School. Children learn that their behaviours have an effect on their own rights and those of others. All members of the school community are expected to treat each other with respect.
Tolerance of Those of Different Faiths and Beliefs
Woodfield is situated in an area which is not culturally diverse, therefore we place a great emphasis on promoting diversity with the children. Assemblies are regularly planned to address this issue either directly or through the inclusion of stories and celebrations from a variety of faiths and cultures. Our RE and PSHE teaching reinforce this. Each year the children explore a world faith alongside their learning about Christianity. Members of different faiths or religions are encouraged to share their knowledge to enhance learning within classes and the school.
At Woodfield we will actively challenge children, staff or parents expressing opinions contrary to fundamental British Values, including those expressing ‘extremist’ views.