Promoting British Values at Avenue Junior School
The DfE have 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 were reiterated in government guidance issued in 2014. At Avenue Junior these values are reinforced regularly and in the following ways:
Our teaching and learning are underpinned by our own core values. Our Values are…
Throughout the school, British values are promoted in a wide variety of ways. Below are just some aspects of school life that enable children to get a sense of these fundamentals as they move on through their time at school.
We have a School Council where two Class Council representatives from each class are elected to participate in Council meetings. These meetings provide a way for children’s voices to be heard and for their opinions to influence important decisions made in the school. Class council representatives, in turn, hold Class Council meetings where their peers can discuss key elements of school life including those issues they wish to be raised in School Council meetings. Our School Council have the opportunity to visit the Houses of Parliament to learn about democracy in action.
We also have a ‘SNAG’ group (School Nutrition Action Group) that is made up of children that help to communicate with kitchen staff at our lunchtime meal providers to ensure that children’s ideas and opinions about the food they eat are taken into consideration when menus are formulated.
There are also numerous opportunities that are provided for children to exercise a vote, whether it is choosing school team names or making more simple day-to-day choices. When important votes take place in the UK, such as a general election or referendum, we make sure pupils are informed about the issues involved and have the chance to debate the questions together, with teachers taking an impartial role as facilitator of these debates.
Democracy is embedded within our school curriculum, for example, in learning about the history of democracy in Ancient Greece and the changes through history in who is allowed to vote. Political dimensions of our topics are explored wherever appropriate to do so.
We actively teach children about their rights and responsibilities as British Citizens, both on a national level and global level. This is underpinned by school assemblies that often look at issues surrounding human rights across the globe.
We share examples of stories linked to democracy, discussing the challenges faced around the world and in history; for example, looking at ‘equality’ linked to the suffragettes and women’s rights around the world today.
All children are actively encouraged to participate in class discussion and in their learning. This is promoted by our use of the ‘Active Questioning’ technique.
Respect is one of our core School Values. Children are taught to respect others regardless of their individual differences. Bullying of any kind is not tolerated and our approach to dealing with bullying incidents is enshrined in our Anti-Bullying policy.
Children are taught about how to develop respectful relationships in a wide variety of ways including through our PSHE curriculum and PATHS (Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies). We also promote mutual respect in the online world as set out in our E-safety and Acceptable Use policy that is seen and signed by all stakeholders at Avenues.
We hold assemblies that celebrate difference and a range of cultures. These help the children to build understanding of different people and their belief systems that may hold both similarities and differences to their own.
Equality is one of our values and is promoted in every aspect of school including in our work with the Stonewall organisation supporting LGBT parents and families. We actively promote gender and racial equality. In assemblies, we look at key figures that have been part of the struggle to establish equality for all and examine where in our own country, as well as others, inequality might still exist.
In Year 6, some children fulfil the role of Anti-bullying ambassadors; they promote the respectful and positive building of relationships in school, ensuring children get the support they need when they may have a problem in a friendship.
We take opportunities to establish positive views of different groups in society; examples of this include our work during Black History Month as well as having refugee guest speakers to share their stories. We have also invited both Olympian and Paralympian athletes into school to share their inspirational stories. A noticeboard in school celebrates diversity and tells the stories of people from diverse backgrounds who have made a difference in the world through their actions.
We have participated in cluster project days that include children and staff from the cluster schools working together to achieve a common goal. The unique make-up of our cluster, including all ages and special schools, means that all stakeholders have developed a respect for the capabilities of all members of the group and in turn, this can alter their views on society as a whole.
Avenues’ link with Malawi is a mutually beneficial international alliance that enables both staff and pupils from each school to learn about each other’s practices, cultures and values. This has included a staff exchange for a number of years.
Children have also participated in a Disability Awareness group where they have carried out site surveys and put together projects about how to make the school more accessible to those people with disabilities. This work reinforced our values, in particular, equality.
Some pupils carry out the role of ‘play leader’ at lunchtimes where they help to organise activities with other pupils in order to enable them to have enjoyable playtimes. This fosters a mutual respect between all parties across a range of ages.
The charity work that Avenues’ children participate in is extremely valuable in helping them to develop a respect for others whilst also supporting the development of their role as active citizens in the wider society. They have a great deal of input into which charities we will support and plan their own activities during our Charities Week, during which they raise a substantial amount of money.
Tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs
During PSHE and PATHS lessons, children learn to accept and embrace difference and to understand how individuals feel by exploring emotional literacy. This work crosses all potential barriers of faith and religion. Supporting this, children’s RE lessons enable them to develop a growing understanding of different cultures and beliefs. The more children learn about religions, the more likely they are to understand different people’s motivations and feelings, thereby enabling them to be more tolerant of those cultures and beliefs that differ from their own.
At the heart of our work, the Avenues values form the foundation for learning tolerance. These values are spoken about and promoted, strengthening the core British values in our community as a result.
We are a School of Sanctuary, and this is at the heart of our approach towards how we welcome others and create a positive and inclusive atmosphere for all. We have recently formed an antiracism working group and have made changes to our curriculum following consultation with parents, teachers and other members of our community.
Our equalities policy ensures that people of all religious beliefs, genders, ethnicities, abilities or any other differences are offered the same opportunities to thrive at our school. Equality is something we seek to uphold in all of our work. We achieved the Equalities Award in 2018 in recognition of this.
International projects such as leaning about Christmas traditions around the world help to develop children’s experiences and understanding of other countries and their traditions, cultures and beliefs. Other learning that supports this is through the teaching of French and sharing of other languages; for example, International Languages Day. We have a “Language of the Month” board which celebrates the different languages spoken in school and encourages children to learn about different cultures.
In assemblies, religious tolerance is strengthened through the celebration of different religious festivals such as Holi. Sometimes, stories are shared or personal experiences of either the staff or children spoken about in order to develop a greater depth of understanding of religious identities.
A great deal of the curriculum at Avenues supports the developing of children’s international knowledge and we celebrate this during in-depth international topics where children learn about different localities in considerable detail, immersing themselves in the culture and beliefs of people around the world.
Rule of Law
Our Behaviour Policy helps to ensure that children understand how to behave in a positive way that helps to create a good learning environment. Our reward system of dojo points and certificates reinforces this.
Children and parents sign home/school and e-safety agreements upon entering Avenues that set out the expectations for pupils’ learning and behaviour. These commitments mirror the expectations set by society and function as a set of rules to enable positive participation in school life.
Through our PATHs curriculum, children are taught about emotional wellbeing and how their individual choices can affect those around them. By encouraging children to take responsibility for their own choices, we are promoting the ownership of behaviour and adherence to the rule of law in wider society.
The local PCSO regularly visits school to talk to the children, establishing good behaviour expectations for outside of school and also talking to the pupils about how to stay safe. This helps the children to see that there are police services to help uphold the law and to protect them.
In each year group, children have the opportunity to learn how to safely ride a cycle, ensuring that they follow the rules of the road.
Anti-Bullying Ambassadors speak restoratively with children, encouraging them to solve problems positively. They also understand that if someone is being bullied then they should report this to an adult to make sure that our school rules are being maintained.
Staff have been trained in Emotion Coaching, which encourages children to discuss their feelings and works towards greater self-regulation, enabling children to independently follow rules and instructions.
Children are taught about laws in connection to the Computing curriculum; for example, children learn about copyright and plagiarism.
Year 6 children go to Crucial Crew to learn about a whole range of things linked to the Rule of Law as well as their responsibilities towards their own safety and that of other people. This supports their curriculum work where they are given age appropriate information about what is and is not legal in regard to drug use and relationships.
Children are taught about rights and responsibilities in our PSHE curriculum and also as part of our assembly programme. Avenues’ school values form the basis of our assembly programme and focus on human rights and how they can be promoted and respected. Specific assemblies focus on individual liberty, such as Nelson Mandela and Malala Yousafzai.
Children’s achievements are celebrated in assemblies to instil in them a sense of worth and create ambitious pupils who believe in themselves and their self-worth. We run many extra-curricular clubs which enable children to explore their own interests, find new hobbies and achieve successes. The school achieved an Artsmark Gold and Gold Sportsmark in recognition of the opportunities we offer in these areas.
Children are taught about making ‘good’ choices and have a full understanding that they are the ones that make choices about how they act, whether those choices are well made or not.
In Year 6 children take on jobs that help to make the school function well. They apply for the roles and so freely choose the way they will contribute to our community. Children also participate in groups that help to develop them as citizens. For example, the school Eco Council helps the school to improve its environment; the Disability Group has helped to provide access for all to the building.
Individual liberty has school values as its foundations. They help the children and staff to understand what the key features of a healthy positive environment are and enable individual freedoms to be maintained and respected. For example, the work around respecting different family models is essential to ensure that all individuals can come to school free from prejudice.
The work of Amnesty International is discussed in assemblies. The school has signed up to Amnesty International for Schools and runs an extra-curricular club for children who wish to explore this work further.