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 the Prime Minister has reiterated these values this year. Though many of our pupils have limited communication, at St John’s Special School these values are reinforced regularly and in the following ways:
Being part of Britain
As a school, we value and celebrate the diverse heritages of everybody at St John’s School. Alongside this, we value and celebrate being part of Britain. In general terms, this means that we celebrate British traditions, such as customs in the course of the year; for example, harvest through songs in the Autumn term, Remembrance Day, VE Day and St George’s Day. Often this is done in our Assemblies or in our wow days. National events are celebrated in school, for example the Olympics, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
Pupils learn about being part of Britain from different specific perspectives. Through our Topics we aim to help our children develop a better historical and geographical understanding of Britain. We learn about its capital cities, counties, regions, rivers and mountains; the difference between Great Britain and the United Kingdom; the placing of Britain in relation to Europe and the rest of the world. We also learn about how life has developed and changed in Britain, historically, over time. This includes discoveries, democracy, social life and houses and contrasting schools now with those in Victorian times.
Democracy – We all have the chance to help make decisions
The pupils’ voice is heard loud and clear in our School. Our child play as much part as they are able in making decisions in our school. This includes supporting them to make choices of activity, whether they want more or less of an activity or provision, or indicating to a member of staff through signing or Picture Exchange, that they want to be left alone. We are developing a School council and trying to Amplify Pupil Voice as part of our Wellbeing Award.
Pupil interviews are also conducted throughout the year. We know that the formation of the school council and the active participation of our pupils will sow the seeds for a more sophisticated understanding of democracy in the future.
Pupils in our school also have the opportunity to effect change in their school by contributing to policy and practices within the school. We try to give the children power to express choices through signing, picture exchange and speech.
The Rule of Law – We all follow the rules
Our pupils will encounter rules and laws throughout their entire lives. We want our pupils to understand that whether these laws govern the class, the school, the community or the country, they are set for good reasons and must be adhered to. The involvement of our pupils in the creation of class rules, that are fair and reasonable, helps them to understand the reasons behind the rules and the consequences if they are broken. Pupils are taught the rules of the school and these are communicated in ways that suit the children. Children are encouraged to be role models and ambassadors for our School shown in the way they behave.
In individual classes, pupils discuss various rules and the importance of following them.
The understanding of the importance of rules will be consistently reinforced through assemblies and our curriculum. Throughout the year we also welcome visits from members of the wider community including police, the fire brigade and many more, this helps reinforce this message.
Individual Liberty – We all have the opportunity to make our own choices
Within school, pupils are actively encouraged to make choices, knowing that they are in a safe and supportive environment. As a school we educate and provide boundaries for young pupils to make choices safely, through provision of a safe environment and empowering education. Pupils are encouraged to know, understand and exercise their rights and personal freedoms and advised how to exercise these safely, for example through our E-Safety and PSHE lessons. Pupils are given important roles in school such as register helpers and other key tasks. Often these are planned as part of their wider EHCP progress.
Pupils are given the choice at lunchtime to either spend this outside or at the indoor provision. Lessons often give pupils opportunities to choose different approaches to their learning for example choosing different methods or resources to solve calculation in maths. In our Literacy, Topic and Science lessons our pupils have the opportunity to choose how to present their learning through role play, poetry, leaflets, diary entries, letters etc. In EYFS and KS1 during structured activity time, pupils are able to choose which tasks they would like to complete and when. Pupils are given the opportunity to learn at their own pace and partake in activities that interest and engage them. We offer a range of clubs which pupils have the freedom to choose from, based on their interests.
Mutual Respect – We all respect one another
Mutual respect is at the core of our school life. Pupils learn to treat each other and staff with great respect. This is evident when walking around the school and in the classrooms. Our schools motto is “Achieving Together” and this is seen throughout the various relationships between pupils and staff. During our weekly assembly pupils show respect for the efforts of others.
Pupils work together in class with a wide range of abilities, supporting each other through Older pupils often listen to younger pupils read or vice versa.
Tolerance of those of Different Faiths and Beliefs – We all accept each other’s differences
St John’s Special School is a diverse school and we actively promote diversity through our celebrations of different faiths and cultures. Religious Education lessons, RE themed weeks and PSHE lessons reinforce messages of tolerance and respect for others. Our multicultural activities illustrate our commitment to exploring our diverse school community. Members of different faiths and religions are encouraged to share their knowledge to enhance learning within classes and the school. The children visit places of worship that are important to different faiths.
Through our curriculum and the routines of our daily school life, we strive to demonstrate tolerance and help children to become knowledgeable and understanding citizens who can build a better Britain for the future.