British Values at ARK Blacklands Primary Academy
In June 2014, David Cameron emphasised the important role that British values can play in education. Although in 2014-15 this is something which is developing in its significance for schools, it is not something new at ARK Blacklands Primary Academy. British values are promoted in so much of what we do, including our:
- School collective worship
- Through planned activity days
- Through sessions in targeted and age appropriate curriculum topics
- Religious Education & PSHCE
- Our clubs and extra-curricular activities
- The work of pupil council and other pupil led activities
- Our general positive and inclusive ethos
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 – they differ in no way from the values of most western European countries. Below are just a few examples of how we promote British values.
Being Part of Hastings, East Sussex and Britain and playing our part the Global Community
As a school, we value and celebrate the diverse heritages of everybody at ARK Blacklands. Alongside this, we value and celebrate being part of our local community and 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, Maypole Dancing for May Day and various cultural cays where we found out about the traditions of different cultures in our community. We also value and celebrate national events, Remembrance Day, National Others Week; we also work with our local PCC and have links to our local church St Andrews, Blacklands.
Further, children learn about being part of Britain from different specific perspectives in curriculum topics for example:
- Geography: where we ensure that children have a better understanding of what Britain is, learning more about its capital cities and counties, its rivers and mountains, where Britain is in relation to the rest of Europe and other countries in the world and our Link with a school in Sierra Leone
- History: Britain and its influence in modern times are aspects woven into our thematic topics
- Music; study of British composers and their influence world wide
- Art: study of how British artist influence others
Children, parents and staff have many opportunities for their voices to be heard at ARK Blacklands Primary Academy. Democracy is central to how we operate.
An obvious example is our Pupil Council. The election of the Pupil Council members reflects our British electoral system and demonstrates democracy in action: candidates prepare to talk to their peers about their vision, pupils consider characteristics important for an elected representative, pupils vote in secret etc.
The council is made up of two representatives from each class plus a school council chair and vice chairperson, the School Council meets regularly to discuss issues raised by the different classes. In the past, the School Council has chosen local charities to support, conducted a sensible parking campaign and visited Parliament in London to gain a deeper insight into our Democratic System as well as holding a Pupil Council meeting at the local town hall.
Other examples of ‘pupil voice’ are:
- Children agree their Class Rules at the start of term
- Children have the opportunity to form groups and clubs
- Pupils monitor and evaluate behaviour / rewards in school and feedback to classes
- Play Leaders are trained to support pupils in meaningful play at lunchtimes. They apply for this position and are interviewed.
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 class discusses and sets its own class rules, 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.
Our pupils can demonstrate what our rules would look like in their daily actions. These values are reinforced in other 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 learning challenge or activity to do
- Choices around the participation in extra-curricular activities
- Choices about lunchtime options
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, drug, relationship and PSHCE lessons.
Mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs
ARK Blacklands Primary Academy is in an area which serves a mainly white British population however this is changing and it is vital we prepare our pupils to exist in an area that is rapidly changing culturally. We are proud to promote and celebrate the different backgrounds and beliefs that our pupils are encountering on a daily basis. Mutual respect is implicit in our aims and ethos.
Our pupils know and understand that it is expected 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. All members of the school community should treat each other with respect.
Specific examples of how we enhance pupils understanding and respect for different faiths and beliefs are:
Through Religious Education 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. In addition pupils enjoy an in depth of study during
Community Themed Weeks, where sometimes we will celebrate and enjoy learning about the differences in countries and cultures around the world
Sadly, no school can guarantee that there will never be instances which are contrary to this value. At ARK Blacklands Primary Academy, such instances are rare and they are treated seriously.