The Department for Education 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 2014. At St Matthew’s C of E School these values are reinforced, regularly, in the following ways:
Children have many opportunities for their voices to be heard. All children can contribute by placing ideas in the school 'Ask It Basket’. We have an active school council called the ‘Dream Team’ who meets, regularly. The Dream Team organise events and support many charities, making decisions and planning activities, independently. School council members are voted in by their peers in our elections. Council meetings are recorded and the school council feedback to the rest of the school in a whole school assembly. Pupils also apply for roles and responsibilities in school such as shed manager and first aiders. The children have to write letters of application, they have interviews conducted by the school council, and they also have appraisals. We have an enterprise team who organise events to raise money for specific things they think school needs.
The importance of laws - whether they be those that govern the class, the school or the country - are consistently reinforced throughout regular school days as well as when dealing with behaviour. Pupils are taught the value and reasons behind laws, that they govern and protect us, the responsibilities this involves and the consequences when laws are broken. Visits from authorities such as the Police and Fire Service help reinforce this message. Parents/carers sign a home school agreement when their children start school. Children know we have to have certain rules to keep them safe and these are reviewed by both children and staff. We have a system of sanctions which are displayed in all classrooms.
Within school, pupils are actively encouraged to make choices knowing they are in a safe and supportive environment. As a school, we educate and provide boundaries for young pupils to make choices, safely. Pupils are encouraged to know, understand and exercise their rights and personal freedoms and are advised how to exercise these safely, for example, through E-Safety and PSHE lessons. We have weekly ‘Forest School’ where children are given the opportunity to make decisions and make choices ensuring their own safety.
Mutual respect is at the heart of our values. Children learn that behaviours have an effect on their own rights and those of others. All members of the school community treat each other with respect. Children respect each other and everyone’s ideas are listened to. Visitors, regularly, comment on the warm respectful attitude of our children, and when on visits the conduct of our pupils' is, regularly, commented on by others.
St Matthew’s C of E School is situated in an area which is not greatly culturally diverse, therefore, we place a great emphasis on promoting diversity within the children. Acts of collective worship are, regularly, planned to address this issue either directly or through the inclusion of stories and celebrations from a variety of faiths and cultures. Our RE and PSHE teaching reinforces this. Members of different faiths or religions are encouraged to share their knowledge to enhance learning within classes and the school. Children visit places of worship that are important to different faiths. We have visited our own local churches.We have regular assemblies run by the Methodist church and we have visited the Buddhist temple and mosque in Newcastle.