The Department for Education state 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 government set out its definition of British values in the 2011 Prevent Strategy and these values were reiterated by the Prime Minister in 2014. At Westacre Middle School these values are reinforced regularly and in the following ways.
Democracy is embedded at the school. Pupils are always listened to by adults and are taught to listen carefully and with concern to each other, respecting the right of every individual to have their opinions and voices heard. Pupils also have the opportunity to air their opinions and ideas through our School Council and regular questionnaires. The elections of the School /Eco Council members, and House Captains are based solely on pupil votes, reflecting our British electoral system and demonstrating democracy in action. In addition we organize visits to the local council and hold ‘hot air debates’ and ‘mock elections’ so pupils learn how to argue and defend points of view.
The Rule of Law
The importance of laws whether they are those that govern the class, the school or the country, are consistently reinforced throughout our school day, through our school assemblies and also when dealing with behaviour in school. We encourage our pupils to distinguish right from wrong and help pupils to understand that living under the rule of law protects individuals. Our 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. Visits from the Police, Fire Service etc. also help to reinforce our messages. Our restorative justice approach helps us to resolve conflicts.
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 our pupils to make choices safely, through the provision of a safe environment and an empowering education. We support pupils to develop their self-knowledge, self-esteem and self-confidence. Our pupils are encouraged to know, understand and exercise their rights and personal freedoms and are advised how to exercise these safely; examples of this can be clearly seen in our e-safety and PSHE lessons. We implement a strong anti-bullying culture and pride ourselves on being a Telling school.
At the heart of our whole school ethos is a commitment to Living Values – a set of core attitudes that we believe contribute to individuals being able to live happy and successful lives within the communities to which they belong. Each monthly value is chosen to underpin the need for mutual respect between our pupils and their peers, staff, their families and their wider community. Our Values are taught through assemblies and PSHE sessions and form a key part of our daily dialogue across school. Respect is promoted across school and it is deeply embedded in all that we do at the school. The pupils know and understand that it is expected and imperative that respect is shown to everyone, whatever differences we may have and to everything, however big or small. The core value of Respect at Westacre Middle School underpins our work every day both in and out of the classroom. Our school frequently participates in learning activities which promote mutual respect including visits to local first schools, a residential care home for the elderly and a local farm. In addition to these activities our children are given regular opportunities to learn in within their community and beyond, each time an emphasis is placed on respecting those with whom they come into contact and their surroundings. A very wide range of extra-curricular clubs are offered at Westacre Middle School both a lunchtime and after the school day. These clubs provide another opportunity for mutual respect to be secured in the attitudes of our pupils, both amongst those participating from their own setting, and any visiting staff or teams.
Tolerance of Those With Different Faiths And BeliefsOur core value of Respect ensures tolerance of those who have different faiths and beliefs. Westacre Middle School enhances pupils understanding of different faiths and beliefs through religious education studies; PSHE work; welcoming visitors from other schools that are not predominately white British, and enjoying a depth of study during themed weeks. Since September 2013, Westacre Middle School has formed links with schools in France, Poland, Greece, Germany and Spain as part of a British Council funded Comenius project. This valuable project has afforded our children opportunities to learn about the cultures and traditions of our European neighbours. The similarities and differences between ourselves and our partner schools have given us chance to reflect on celebrating variety and identity. Through this our pupils gain an enhanced understanding of their place in a culturally diverse society.