The Department for Education states 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 Ash Lea School these values are reinforced regularly and in the following ways:
Democracy is embedded at the school. We empower our pupils by giving opportunities to make choices about the things they believe to be important. 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 try to ensure that pupils are given a voice and there is a strong emphasis on building communication skills at the school. This “voice” could be using words, objects, photos, symbols, eye gaze or body language. Pupils also have the opportunity to air their opinions through ‘personal views’ on EHC plans, class meetings and the pupil forum.
In addition some pupils, for whom it is appropriate, find out about the work of the local council and parliament and may hold debates and mock elections so they learn how to argue and defend points of view.
The Rule of Law
The importance of laws (rules) 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, pupils are helped to learn to manage their behaviour and where appropriate take responsibility for their actions. We can help some pupils to understand the connection between actions and consequences. A big emphasis is placed on positive behaviour and classes have reward systems in place. Pupils are familiar with the school code that sets out our rules:
Do the best that you can all of the time
Listen carefully to what others have to say
Help each other whenever we can
Always be polite and friendly
Visits from the Police, Fire Service etc. also help to reinforce our messages.
Within school, pupils are supported to become as independent as possible and 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. They are supported to understand that they have rights, including the right to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to activities. We implement a strong anti-bullying culture.
Respect is promoted across school and it is deeply embedded in all that we do at the school. The pupils are supported to 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. Our children are given regular opportunities to learn within their community and beyond, each time an emphasis is placed on respecting those with whom they come into contact and their surroundings.
We promote the inclusion of all pupils in activities in settings that are appropriate to their needs.
Tolerance of Those with Different Faiths and Beliefs
Our core value of Respect ensures tolerance of those who have different faiths and beliefs. Ash Lea School enhances pupils’ understanding of different faiths and beliefs through religious education studies, assemblies, SMSC work, global awareness lessons, welcoming visitors from a wide range of cultures and enjoying a depth of study during themed weeks. Over several years, Ash Lea School has formed links with schools in Germany, Finland, Turkey, Belgium, Czech Republic, Latvia, Estonia, Greece and Austria as part of British Council funded Comenius projects. These valuable projects have 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 have gained an enhanced understanding of their place in a culturally diverse society.
Our activities contributing to these themes are tracked and monitored regularly.