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.
Although in 2014-15 this is something which is developing in its significance for schools, it is not something new at Fairfields Primary School. British values are promoted in so much of what we do, not least through our rights respecting ethos based on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and during our school assemblies, Religious Education and Citizenship sessions. The values are integral to our learning aims which can be found on the school website.
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 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.
Being part of Britain
As a school, we value and celebrate the diverse heritages of everybody at Fairfields. Events such as a 'Diversity Party' ensure that children and adults from the school and local area are encouraged to join together and learn about each other’s cultures, customs, faiths and languages.
In addition to this, we work together to support children and their families when English is not their first language. We provide access to Adult English Lessons and the development of the 'Young Interpreters' within the school provide support to pupils. The Young Interpreters provide support to children who are new to English from their peers who help them to make friends, settle into school life and routines and learn the English language.
Alongside this, we value and celebrate being part of Britain. In general terms, this means that we celebrate traditions, such as customs, festivals and commemorations in the the course of the year; for example, Harvest festival during the autumn term, Remembrance Sunday, Christmas and Easter. More specifically, we learn about Britain in lessons including:
Year 1 – Through the topic of Belonging; pupils learn about the history of the local area and community including learning about themselves.
Year 2 - Through the topic of Exploration; pupils learn about the characteristics of the 4 countries and capital cities of the UK learn the names of continents and oceans.
Year 3 - Through the topic of Regeneration; pupils learn about new life and beginnings including the impact of Roman innovations.
Year 4 – Through the topic of Conflict; pupils learn about the impact of the Anglo-Saxons on Britain.
Year 5 – Through the topic of Revolution; pupils explore why revolutions occur including the industrial revolution and the impact of the British Empire.
Year 6 – Through the topic of Contrast; pupils compare Britain with inhospitable places
The main focus of the curriculum is British history. Children learn about an aspect life and how this has developed and changed over time. Examples include;
Year 1 – Schools in the Victorian era and Florence Nightingale
Year 2 – The Great Fire of London
Year 3 – The impact of the Roman Empire on Britain. Stone Age to Iron Age.
Year 4 - The Anglos-saxons and the impact of the invention of electricity.
Year 5 - The ancient Egyptians and the impact of the industrial revolution.
Year 6 – Democracy and the legacy of the ancient Greeks.
Children, parents and staff have many opportunities for their voices to be heard at Fairfields Primary School. Democracy is central to how we operate; our School Councillors are an excellent example. The election of the School Councillors 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 Councillors meet regularly to discuss issues raised by the different classes and plan events for the whole school. The School Councillors are actively involved in staff recruitment. They conduct school tours for candidates and give feedback to the interview panel. There are also opportunities to provide teachers with feedback, such as a review of themed weeks and policies including the Anti-bullying and behaviour policies.
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 to support.
Pupils are always listened to by adults and are taught to listen carefully and 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 heightened 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 for example in a sports lesson.
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 who they prefer to learn with in some activities
choices about how they record some learning
choices around the participation in extra-curricular activities
choices from a variety of activities at lunchtime.
Our pupils are encouraged to know, understand and exercise their rights and personal freedoms and are taught how to exercise these safely. We place a high regard on e-safety and are explicit with children about why they need to make the right choices when online.
Mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs
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 Fairfields Primary enhance pupils understanding and respect for different faiths and beliefs are:
Through Religious Education, Citizenship 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.
Through assemblies where we celebrate diversity and difference. Children enjoy learning about other faiths and cultures. Great emphasis is placed on our identity as
individuals, families and communities.
Sadly, no school can guarantee that there will never be instances which are contrary to this value. At Fairfields Primary School, such instances are extremely rare. They are treated seriously in line with school policies.