In June 2014, David Cameron emphasised the important role that British values play in education. How schools promote these values is an important aspect of Ofsted’s inspection process.
Since then this has been developing significantly in schools, it is not something new to William Bradford Academy. British values are promoted in much of what we do, including our school assemblies and Religious Studies lessons. The values are integral to our long-standing vision statement which complements British values and always has done.
As well as actively promoting British values, we also actively challenge pupils, staff or parents expressing opinions contrary to fundamental British values, including ‘extremist’ views.
The term ‘British values’ might be slightly misleading in that these values are integral to so many countries throughout the world – they differ in no way from the values of most western European countries, for example.
Below are just a few examples of how we promote British values. The first section is a general overview; the others are specific expectations set out by Ofsted.
Schools are subject to a duty (Section 26, Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015) to have “due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”. This duty is known as the Prevent duty. Included below are information resources to support parents in discussions about extremism and preventing radicalisation.
Being part of Britain
As a school, we value and celebrate the diverse heritages of everybody at WBA. Alongside this, we value and celebrate being part of Britain. In general terms, this means that we celebrate traditions, and customs such as Remembrance Day, Diwali and Hannukah during the autumn term, and Christmas of course.
Further, children learn about being part of Britain from different specific perspectives. Two specific examples of when we teach about being part of Britain are:
Geographically: Our tutorial and Humanities Department work at WBA ensures that children have a better understanding of what Britain is, learning more about:
- Its capital cities and counties, its rivers and mountains
- How ‘Great Britain’ differs from ‘England’ and ‘the United Kingdom’
- Where Britain is in relation to the rest of Europe and other countries in the world.
Historically: The main focus is British history. Children learn about an aspect of life and how this has developed and changed over time. The actual topic depends on the interests of the children (and teacher!), but might include inventions and discoveries, people or medicine.
Children, parents and staff have many opportunities for their voices to be heard at WBA. 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 using ballot boxes etc. The School Council, made up of two representatives from each class, 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.
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 teacher and class discuss and set their ground rules and expectations, 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 ordered environment.
Pupils are taught the value and reasons behind laws; that they govern and protect us; the responsibilities that come with these; 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 Studies: how rules in religions enable moral behaviour; and how British laws impact on specific issues such as abortion, drugs, crime and punishment, prejudice and discrimination and medical ethics.
- During other school subjects, where there is respect and appreciation for different rules – for example, in a sports lesson.
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 young people to make choices safely; for example:
- Choices about learning challenges or activities
- Choices about how they record their learning
- Choices around the participation in extra-curricular activities
Our pupils are encouraged to know, understand and exercise their rights and personal freedoms and are taught how to exercise these safely, such as through our E-Safety lessons and assemblies.
Mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs
William Bradford Academy is in an area which is not culturally diverse, however, we are proud to promote and celebrate different backgrounds and beliefs, by having an informed and diverse staff who are willing and able to challenge inappropriate and intolerant stereotypes through open dialogue with students and parents. Mutual respect is at the heart of our aims and ethos:
– To develop understanding of and respect for a wide range of religious values, languages and cultural traditions and different ways of life through exposure via a diverse and engaging curriculum, including many extra-curricular and cultural opportunities.
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, or a religious belief. We encourage open dialogue and questions to enable students to learn to challenge their own and familial stereotypes. Young people learn that their behaviour choices have an effect on their own rights and those of others. All members of the school community should treat each other with respect.
Specific examples of how we at WBA enhance pupils understanding and respect for different faiths and beliefs are:
- Through Religious Studies and other lessons where we might develop awareness and appreciation of other cultures – in English through fiction and in Art by considering culture from other parts of the world, for example:
- Enjoying a depth of study as part of the curriculum, where sometimes we will celebrate and enjoy learning about the differences in countries and cultures around the world (whilst at other times we might consider groups or individuals who might be vulnerable in some way, such as those with mental health issues).
Sadly, a school cannot guarantee there will never be instances which are contrary to this value. At William Bradford Academy, such instances are extremely rare and are treated very seriously.
Something which is clearly not part of any British or European value is extremism. It is important to remember that whilst the threat from so-called Islamic State has been a focus in the Counter Terrorism and Security Act, the Prevent Duty is clear that extremism of all kinds should be tackled too. In England, far right groups such as Britain First and the English Defence League need to be tackled, too. Extremism is not a new topic in education, but schools have a relatively new statutory duty to pay “due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”. We take this duty very seriously and are vigilant about this and promote British values of inclusion through SMSC days and events.