The DfE have 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 the heart of these values are good relationships in which teachers, parents and students work together towards common goals.
We agree with the Department for Education’s five-part definition of British values:
- The rule of law
- Individual liberty
- Mutual respect
- Tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs
At the John of Gaunt School these values are both integral and reinforced on a daily basis in the following ways.
Students have the opportunity to contribute to school life through Student Voice. Each House holds elections to elect tutor group representatives and also School Council representatives which meet each term. Students are given the opportunity to debate and discuss democracy in many areas of the curriculum. Opportunities for all students to have their say can be seen particularly in Religious Education, English, Humanities and Citizenship; although all subjects will involve discussion, turn taking, debate and decision making. Students are also invited to local Youth Parliament meetings where they are given the opportunity to serve their local community. Students are invited to work along staff and governors in the employment of new staff and are regularly invited to be part of the interview process via student panels. The school is a ‘Rights Respecting School’ and these values are continually explored in assemblies and tutor time activities for all years.
Recently students were consulted over proposed uniform changes.
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 regular school days, as well as when dealing with behaviour and through assemblies. Students have been involved in the creation of school rules at regular intervals as well being involved in the school’s Behaviour Policy.
Students are taught the value and reasons behind laws that govern and protect us. The school’s behaviour policy is shared at the start of the new academic year and revisited through assemblies and tutor periods throughout the year. The school regularly host visits from outside agencies eg The Police and Fire Service to help reinforce the importance of this message.
We have a positive culture in our school where students are able to make choices in a safe environment. Differentiated planning by teachers allows students the opportunity to have a more personalised learning experience. The school curriculum enables all students to make guided choices regarding future academic pathways. We offer a wide range of activities designed to allow every student the opportunity to take part in an extra-curricular activity in which they have an interest.
Students are educated through our ‘Rights Respecting’ work to understand their rights and those of others. Students are also taught about the importance of E-Safety through assemblies and Citizenship and ICT/Computing lessons.
Students have also been involved in the changes in the school canteen and are able to make educated choices at break and lunchtimes.
Our Behaviour Policy engenders our basic belief in mutual respect. This is integral in our school wide and classroom rules and is reinforced in day to day teaching, tutor activities and assemblies and in our work as being a “Rights Respecting School.” All staff in school promote and demonstrate respect for others and this is also reflected in older students in their roles as Senior students and Prefects as well as those who represent House councils and the School Council. Achievement is celebrated across the school; in assemblies, Faculties, through phone calls to parents and through our website and newsletter.
Tolerance of those of Different Faith and Beliefs
The John of Gaunt School believes that tolerance is built through enhancing students’ understanding of their place in a culturally diverse society and by giving them opportunities to experience such diversity through the curriculum and in extracurricular activities. Assemblies and discussions involving prejudices and prejudice- based bullying have been led by senior staff and this is reinforced in learning particularly in RE and PSHE as well as other subjects across the school. The school also offers various opportunities for students to become knowledgeable about other faiths and beliefs through visits abroad and visits from outside speakers of different faiths and cultures.