Promoting British Values at Acorn Multi Academy Trust
The Department for Education 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 and emphasised very publicly.
All the schools within the Acorn Multi Academy Trust work closely together to promote these values by sharing ideas and best practice. The Heads of Schools regularly report on activities which have taken place within their schools to their Governors, and Governors also monitor the impact this has had.
Amongst many other activities this year, children from Acorn Multi Academy Trust schools have visited the Houses of Parliament, held mock elections and raised money for numerous charities. The news feed on each school’s website has further information about events at each school which support British Values.
Acorn Multi Academy Trust has produced the following statement which reflects the importance of British Values within all our schools and how these values are upheld on a daily basis.
What are British values?
According to Ofsted, British values are:
- the rule of law;
- individual liberty;
- mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs and for those without faith
Every school in England must promote British values in their SMSC development, which is particularly important to Ofsted. The *New* SMSC Quality Mark for Primary and Secondary Schools aims to help schools recognise and review the development of SMSC, which includes British values.
The big caveat
The language we hear from government is of 'promoting fundamental British values' and of young people 'accepting', 'respecting' and 'tolerating' – as though we all agree already on what those values are, accept that they are unique to Britain and believe we should follow them unquestionably.
At the Citizenship Foundation, we think education is about helping people understand how things work and how to challenge and change them for the better.
Values won't be assumed because schools demand they are, particularly if they're very different from those at home. They have to be arrived at through mutual exploration and understanding.
That is what citizenship education aims to achieve.
Democracy is prevalent in the schools. The children have the opportunity to nominate and vote for the school council members. Pupils are encouraged to express their views democratically and to make lead decisions on issues to do with the organisation of the school. Our core values of mutual respect and listening to the views of others encourages democracy in the daily play and work of the children. The behaviour policies are understood and supported by the pupils and all are encouraged to value the contribution of others to classroom and school life. They are taught to abide by the agreed wishes of the majority.
The Rule of Law:
The importance of laws is taught to children from as early as reception (nursery) class. Our behaviour systems both empower pupils to make the right choices and show them that there are consequences to acting against the accepted rules. Pupils are taught the value and reasons behind laws and how they govern and protect us. Reward systems are in place for pupils who demonstrate a commitment to following the school rules. Our school rules are taught consistently across the school and are fundamental to our behaviour policy. The values include: honesty, kindness, respect, listening and politeness and these help to promote a democratic ethos for all.
We teach children about the freedom of choices and pride ourselves on giving them a safe and supportive environment within which to do this. We often present role-models to the children within our Assemblies and Acts of Worship about people who have battled for individual liberty and freedom. We encourage them to think about their role within a global society and how passion and motivation can support change. We also empower children within their learning through our assessment for learning systems where pupils are able to participate in the decision relating to the next level of challenge that they undertake in their learning. We present pupils with relevant information regarding E-Safety and personal freedoms through our computing and PSHE curriculum. We also offer pupils a wide range of extra-curricular opportunities that they can choose to participate in.
Part of our school ethos and behaviour policy has revolved around such values as ‘Respect’, and pupils have been part of discussions and assemblies related to what this means and how it is shown. Posters around the school promote respect for others and this is reiterated through our classroom and learning rules, as well as our behaviour policy. The Church Schools work closely with the local minister to introduce and discuss how our Christian faith supports and encourages respect and love of others. The Community Schools also have close links with their local ministers who will often attend an assembly as part of the RE curriculum.
Tolerance of those with Different Faiths and Beliefs:
We are very aware that our schools are in a predominantly white, mono-cultural environment. Because of this we believe that our children need to see themselves as part of a global, diverse community. Assemblies, Acts of Worships and special visitors to the school and visits support the work in helping children develop an understanding of other faiths and cultures. We continue in class through RE, PSHE and topic work. We seek to allow every child in the school to identify with their own culture but encourage them to look at different faiths and religions. We give the children the opportunity to learn a modern foreign language to help them understand that they live in an interdependent world.