In June 2014, David Cameron emphasised the important role that British values can play in education and how important it is for schools to promote such values.
This is not something new at Atam Academy. British values are promoted in so much of what we do, say, represent, not least during our school assemblies, Religious Education and PSHE learning.
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.
The term ‘British values’ might be slightly misleading in that these values are integral to so many countries throughout the world. Our principles are based on Sikh values which differ in no way from the values of most western European countries, for example.
Being part of Britain
As a school, we value and celebrate the diverse heritages of everybody in the United Kingdom. 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.
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:
Children, parents and staff have many opportunities for their voices to be heard at Atam Academy. 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. Made up of two representatives from each class, the School Council meets regularly to discuss issues raised by the different classes.
Other examples of ‘pupil voice’ are:
- children agree their Class Code of Conduct at the beginning of the academic year and are responsible for implementing this within their class.
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.
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 sports 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 young pupils to make choices safely; for example:
- choices about what they would like to learn
- choices about what they would like for their lunch
- choices around the participation in extra-curricular activities
- choices in interpretation of homework tasks
Our pupils are encouraged to know, understand and exercise their rights and personal freedoms and are taught how to exercise these safely, such as in our e-safety and PSHE lessons.
Mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs.
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. Children learn that their behaviour choices have an effect on their own rights and those of others, we believe in restorative justice to settle disputes between children. All members of the school community should treat each other with respect.
Sadly, no school can guarantee that there will never be instances which are contrary to this value. At Atam Academy, such instances are extremely rare but are treated seriously in line with our policy.