The government set out its definition of British values in the 2011 Prevent Strategy and these values were reiterated by the Prime Minister in 2014. The Department for Education states 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 term ‘British values’ might be slightly misleading; the values that we promote are certainly not unique to Britain. We fully acknowledge that they are no different from the values of many other countries and cultures. As well as actively promoting British values, the opposite is also true: we would actively challenge pupils, staff or parents expressing opinions contrary to fundamental British values, including ‘extremist’ views.
Although this agenda is something which is developing in its significance for schools, it is not something new at Pirbright Village Primary School. In fact, the British values defined by the government reinforce and complement the rotating ‘Value of the Month’ that is already an embedded part of our assemblies, teaching and learning and school life in general. British values are promoted in so much of what we do at Pirbright Village Primary School and they are regularly reinforced. Some examples are listed below:
We have a responsibility to teach our children about the fundamental principles of democracy and its place in British society. This is achieved through school processes which model this principle:
Election of house team captains
Election of school councillors
The use of the school council to discuss issues that the children consider to be important
Class discussions about the issues arising from school council meetings
Dealing with social issues through class discussions and majority decisions
Class charters and learning agreements
Pupil forums to discuss a variety of different topics
Voting in class for rewards, including ‘Golden Time’ and ‘Marble Treats’
Voting within class to express preferences about topic choices and learning strategies, developing pupils’ independence and time management strategies
Democracy is also covered through the curriculum for PSHE. For example, the topics about ‘Rules & Responsibilities’, ‘Conflict’, ‘Differences’, ‘Rights & Responsibilities’ and ‘Philosophy & The World Around Us’. Current affairs, including the impact of the democratic right to vote, are also included in the ‘News’ section of the school magazine.
The Rule of Law
All adults at Pirbright, whether senior leaders, teachers, support staff or governors, have a duty to protect children from harm and promote British Law and British Values.
The school has a crucial part to play in providing a positive role model for all children and to build positive links with our local community. As a publicly maintained school, we must fulfil our duty to promote community cohesion, champion democratic values and fundamental human rights. Critical to this role is the specific focus needed to support our most vulnerable pupils and those at risk of isolation within our community.
Pupils are taught the value and reasons behind laws, their crucial role in keeping us safe, the responsibilities that this involves, and the consequences when laws are broken. The ‘rule of law’ underpins our uniform and behaviour management policies and complements our ‘Restorative Approaches’ strategy. As a school, we have high expectations of all members of our school community.
These values are reinforced in different ways:
Alongside rules and laws, we promote individual freedom of choice and the children’s right to respectfully express their views and beliefs. Through the provision of a safe, supportive and empowering environment, we provide boundaries for our pupils to make safe and responsible choices; for example:
Our pupils are encouraged to know, understand and exercise their rights and personal freedoms. They are taught how to exercise these safely, such as the ground rules that are explained and agreed as part of our e-safety and PSHE lessons.
Pirbright is committed to helping our children to understand what the key features of a healthy, positive environment are and to enable their individual freedoms to be maintained and respected. Our assemblies promote this. Furthermore, children’s individual achievements, ranging from sport to smaller personal goals, are celebrated in assemblies to instil in them a sense of worth and create ambitious pupils who believe in themselves.
At Pirbright, we encourage mutual respect between children, staff and parents. The way that students treat each other as people is a firm foundation for a healthy life at school, at home and in their community. We promote and reward this principle through our school citizenship scheme, including house points and reward cards, as well as the junior citizenship trip in Year 6.
By emphasising and modelling empathy, good character and other important life skills, we constantly strive to create well-rounded and thoughtful students. We value each other as unique and special individuals; we celebrate diversity and encourage our community to celebrate different cultures and beliefs.
All members of the school community are encouraged to use good manners, saying ‘please,’ ‘thank you’ and ‘excuse me’; we always allow others to go first. At Pirbright, we do not use put downs or make fun of other people. The children are also encouraged to consider the potential impact and e-safety implications of promoting rumours and posting unkind comments on social media.
We develop mutual respect by being a close community where we celebrate each other’s successes, acknowledging and supporting the accomplishments of others, including through peer feedback activities. We encourage our students to ‘look out’ for other members of the school community, filling them with conscientiousness; creating helpful and generous characters.
Pirbright Village Primary School is proud to promote and celebrate our different backgrounds and beliefs. Tolerance, inclusiveness and mutual respect are at the heart of our aims and ethos. Our core aim of preparing children for the future drives us towards ensuring that our pupils are able to live and work alongside people from all backgrounds and cultures. This will be particularly necessary in the future where technological advances will make the world a smaller place.
Specific examples of how we enhance pupils’ understanding and respect for different faiths and beliefs are:
Our pupils know and understand that we expect respect to be shown to everyone and to everything, whatever differences we may have. As part of our ‘Restorative Approaches’ strategy, 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.