In June 2014, David Cameron emphasized the important role that British values can play in education. Although this was something which was developing in its significance for schools at the time, it is not something new at St Martin-in-Meneage Primary School. British values are promoted in so much of what we do, not least during our Assemblies, RE lessons and PHSE sessions. The values are integral to our long-standing ethos statement which complements British values and always has done. In fact, we would go further and say that the values we actively promote are values which are essential for all of humankind. The values we actively promote in assemblies and across the curriculum are detailed in the link at the bottom of this page.
It is expected that the development of these values for life will be reinforced and further enhanced through each of the curriculum areas and the extra-curricular life of the school.
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..
Being part of Britain
As a school, we value and celebrate the diverse heritages of everybody at St Martin. Alongside this, we value and celebrate being part of Britain. In general terms, this means that we celebrate traditions, such as customs in the course of the year; for example, Harvest festival during the Autumn term, and what could be more British than a trip to a pantomime around Christmas time! Furthermore, children learn about being part of Britain from different perspectives.
Children, parents and staff have many opportunities for their voices to be heard at St Martin. Democracy is central to how we operate.
An obvious example is our School Council. The election of the School Council members 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 etc. The School Council meets regularly to discuss issues raised by the different classes. The council has its own budget and is able to genuinely effect change within the school.
Other examples of ‘pupil voice’ are:
- children agree their Class Rules and the rights associated with these; all children contribute to the drawing up of these rules
- pupil surveys ask children to reflect on how they see their school
- children nominate various charities to be supported throughout the year – Comic Relief/Children in Need…
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. 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 Rules, 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 orderly 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 – in a PE lesson, for example
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 pupils to make choices safely.
Our pupils are encouraged to know, understand and exercise their rights and personal freedoms and are taught how to exercise these safely.
Mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs
St Martin is in an area of minimal cultural diversity and we see it as exceedingly important to promote and celebrate different backgrounds and beliefs. Mutual respect is at the heart of our aims and ethos.
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 understand they should treat each other with respect.
Sadly, no school can guarantee that there will never be instances which are contrary to these values. At St Martin, such instances are extremely rare and are treated seriously in line with our Behaviour Management Policy.