The Department of Education statement about British Values reads:
‘We want 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.’
At Astley St Stephen’s Primary School British Values are promoted through our own school values, the school ethos, collective worship, RE lessons and across the breadth of our curriculum.
Astley St Stephen’s Primary School promotes the idea that individuals have freedom to choose what they believe. Woven into our curriculum and collective worship is the idea that not everyone is the same. A class cannot investigate the behaviour of ‘all Muslims’ or ‘all Christians’, because not everyone within a faith will practise it in the same way. For example, in RE pupils will explore the different ways churches worship, celebrate the Eucharist and differences in denominations. There are also units which explore the ways in which Jews, Christians and Muslims show their commitment to God and the impact on their lives.
Through our topic curriculum children explore differences in ways of life around the world. Older pupils have opportunities to explore times when individual liberty has been ignored, for example the conquest of the Aztec people, the Pendle witch trials and the use of priest holes in Lancashire. Through these enquiries children are given the opportunity to explore, gain knowledge and to reach an understanding that people are at liberty to choose how they express their faith and what they believe in.
Rule of law
There are many examples of ‘rule of law’ within RE. Children are encouraged to think about the laws, commandments, and expectations within a faith and how those rules would impact on their own lives as well as on the lives of the people within those religions. Children study well known followers of different faiths and how the rules of their faith impacts on their lives. For example, in Year 3 pupils study daily life and rules for Christians, Muslims and Jews in the summer term.
Children are enabled to understand the origins of the various codes of conduct, rules, laws and expectations put forward by different religions and belief positions, and to consider their own position in relation to these.
As a whole school community we have a set of values and these drive our school rules. Each class explores the importance of our individual rights and responsibilities and then sets their own class rules. At KS2 in our Window on the World worship, pupils frequently explore national and international laws as issues arise in the media or through the value we are exploring. Pupils learn within the community of our school that breaking rules has consequences and an impact on others through use of our responsible thinking sheets.
Mutual respect, democracy and tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs.
These three concepts stand at the very heart of every classroom. Every lesson is a chance to demonstrate them. Teachers have opportunity to model respect, tolerance and democracy within the classroom, allowing all children the opportunity to speak, using class voting systems and debate and using trips and visitors to bring the subject to life.
At KS2 through our Window on the World assembly pupils directly tackle and discuss difficult national and international topics with respect, honesty and openness. Through learning about faith practices and really investigating what they mean for the individuals, children are encouraged to develop mutual respect and tolerance but also to develop critical thinking skills enabling them to question and discuss beliefs and the ways they might be manifested. They are also enabled, through their knowledge, to challenge ideas about religion and spot intolerance when they see it amongst their community and in the media.
Most children enjoy talking about their religion and beliefs and what these means to them; and most children enjoy hearing about the lives of their classmates. By giving this, through RE, a place in the curriculum, we are giving the message that it is important to understand the beliefs of others, that it is important to listen to the story of another human being.
We have a school council and include pupils in the writing and evaluation of the School Development Plan, so that they develop an understanding of the role they have within our community. Each year KS2 take part in the Send My Friend to school campaign and are taught how to use the British democratic system to express their views to the government.
At Astley St Stephen’s School, we feel that these values are not only ‘British’ but are core values shared by the majority of human beings, as manifested in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and are fully in line with our own school gospel values.
“St. Stephen’s is an outstanding church school that reflects very well its Christian foundation. The strong Christian ethos of the school brings positive gospel attitudes and values to both teaching and learning and promotes excellent relationships in the school. In this school children flourish in a relaxed, safe and caring environment. The school has very good and effective links with the parish church.” SIAMS inspection 2012