We establish a strong school ethos through effective relationships across the school. We provide relevant activities within and beyond the classroom in many ways, ensuring strong Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural development for all our pupils.
Our status as a Church of England school means we are distinctively and recognisably a Christian institution. As such we believe we play an important role in our community upholding and encouraging the development of British Values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs. We expect children to understand that while different people may hold different views about what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, all people living in England are subject to its law.
This document helps parents to understand that our teaching and ethos supports the rule of English civil and criminal law. We will not teach anything that undermines them.
Our school makes listening to children (the ‘pupil voice’) a priority, and we have several systems, both formal and informal, through which views can be collected. When children are elected by their peers to the school council, food council and worship group, democratic principles are taught and exemplified. As children get older, they support their candidacy for a school council place with speeches or presentations. All children are offered this chance and all children are eligible to vote. Through circle time type activities pupils are also afforded a voice and opportunities to express their emerging ideas whilst listening to the views of others, which promotes the development of critical thinking. Our PSHE Curriculum is developing and will hopefully in the future offer our Pupil Voice the opportunity to tour of both Houses of Parliament, further supporting the understanding of democratic processes and law-making in this country.
In some lessons, particularly those that are topic based, children are able to work with the teachers to define the direction of their studies and select the success criteria by which their work will be assessed. Children complete a survey on an annual basis and the results are shared with school staff and governors, with highlights for the parents. Governors also monitor levels of engagement and standards in the school through their Governor Visits. These include ‘pupil conferencing’ activities. In these ways school promotes, and is seen to promote, democratic principles.
The Rule of Law
Routines and Behaviour at our school are governed by codes of conduct, which are linked to the school’s Christian Values. At the beginning of the school year each class takes time to decide upon the rules that are pertinent to their own situations. Through displays, assemblies and the curriculum we reinforce key messages on a regular basis.
School also operates a variety of rotas and routines. These have come into being in response to perceived needs – for example the playtime football rota – and time is taken to explain these reasons to children. The School Council are empowered to challenge our rules, and are sometimes charged with defining rules of their own. Issues of ‘right and wrong’ are explored on a daily basis as we help children to find their place in our community. Through the curriculum children come to understand that rules exist to benefit all people, and that breaking these rules has consequences. This theme is central to our Behaviour and Discipline Policy.
We host occasional visits from members of the wider community – the police, church, medical professionals etc, believing that real life stories and first-hand accounts can emphasise the importance of the rule of law for our pupils.
Our mission statement makes it clear that we strive to provide a welcoming and caring school experience for all our children. We work hard to ensure that our environment is safe and sufficiently well-resourced to enable children to approach their learning in creative ways, exercising choice within lessons and especially during their play. A wide range of clubs are available to enable children to discover and develop their talents. Children are helped to understand that they must exercise their freedoms responsibly, aware of the impact of their choices upon one-another and the environment of the school. Freedom of speech is encouraged, with ‘worry boxes’ and other similar systems in place to enable the views of all to be shared fairly and democratically.
Mutual Respect is at the heart of our school vision. We expect all those at school to treat one another with respect, to value the contribution that we all make, and encourage the participation of any within our local and global community in the work of educating the children we serve. We expect the sense of mutual respect to be palpable for any who visit us. It is enshrined in our rules and should be evident in all aspects of work and play. Our highly successful Year 6 ‘Buddy’ programme helps to give expression to this value at the core of the life of our school.
Tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs
Although we are a Church of England school, ours is a curriculum which is culturally rich and diverse. Religious Education plays a major part in shaping children’s understanding of cultural diversity (though our art and music lesson also contribute to cultural development). All major religions are studied in the R.E. curriculum, and through these studies we intend children to gain a respectful understanding of the beliefs, practices and customs held by others, whether they are represented locally or across the world. Individuals who hold a different faith are worthy of our respect. We are working to increase opportunities for children to encounter leaders and members of different faith groups and visit places of worship, in order to gain further appreciation and understanding. Intolerance, in all its forms, should be challenged. Through a well-founded SMSC curriculum and strong school ethos we aim to ensure that children learn to see themselves as citizens of an inter-dependent, modern culture, working with any member of society to create a better future.