At Wicor, like most schools we have been teaching citizenship through our Personal Development Learning (PDL) curriculum for many years; helping children to learn about the skills and attitudes needed for living in a diverse society. We believe it is important for children to learn ‘how societies work’ and to understand that they can challenge unfairness and injustice they encounter in their lives and moreover, that they can be agents for change.
In June 2014, the Prime Minister emphasised the important role that British values can play in education and from this schools were encouraged to promote these as a part of their Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural work (SMSC).
How have British Values been defined?
According to Ofsted, 'fundamental British values' comprise 4 concepts:
the rule of law
mutual respect for, and tolerance of, those with different faiths and beliefs and for those without faith.
As well as actively promoting British values, an additional requirement was placed on schools to actively challenge pupils, staff or parents expressing opinions contrary to fundamental British values, including ‘extremist’ views – the anti-radicalisation strategy known as Prevent.
Our PDL curriculum needs to be mindful of these additional emphases but also must recognise that children will not ‘adopt’ a value because schools teach them, particularly if they are different from those at home. PDL education is about discussion, listening, mutual exploration and understanding. This is why our overarching Behaviour Education Policy builds on the concept of Respect.
We are mindful of our aim to empower children to live in, and be successful in, a modern democracy. We need to help our pupils to be:
informed about the social and political world
concerned about the welfare of others
articulate in their opinions and arguments
capable of having an influence on the world
active in their communities
responsible in how they act as citizens.
Being part of a British community
We believe that it is important for our pupils to learn about and come to know the local community in which they live. We encourage children to learn about this through our local studies work which is an integral part of our history and geography curricula and through our active links with the community.
At Wicor, we value seasonal traditions and customs. We host a local Hampshire providers Food Festival in September, a community harvest celebration at our Hop n Hog event. We have strong links with our local care homes and day centres which present valuable opportunities for children to visit for Christmas Carols or to present harvest produce grown in our grounds. We encourage teachers to use local resources to support learning; we make good use, for example, of our village, neighbouring towns and villages, the Dockyard, local churches and cathedrals. We invite our community into school too and the curriculum is brought to life, for example, through visits from the local fire brigade, PCSOs, local charities and secondary school pupils.
All classes have access to The Day Explorer, an online newspaper, which has an excellent range of features that cover all aspects of British values as well as informing the children about global issues.
We believe that our school is an integral part of our community and encourage children, parents and governors to help shape what we provide. We carry out various stakeholder surveys each year to gain views on what we do well and how we might improve.
Wicor has had a school council in past years but we do not believe this is an appropriate or effective vehicle for pupil voice. We prefer to engage with and seek the views of all pupils more directly. A recent example was the creation of a library for our older readers. Two year groups were involved in discussing and deciding (through a vote) what they wanted and how they wanted it to look and work. Another year group worked closely with our local Borough Council and visited the council offices. Recently, a group of children were invited to make a presentation at a local planning enquiry and to see the outcome.
Each year, classes focus on our school behaviour concept of respect. Together with their teacher and other staff, they discuss and shape the learning environment they want to experience over the year. This is a process of discussion, listening and mutual understanding.
We invite the children to choose which charities they would like the school to support. They get to vote on a final selection and then decide which they would like to support over the year.
The Rule of Law
The importance of the rule of law, 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. As mentioned above, at the start of the school year, each class discusses the school principle of Respect and how this translates into rules that govern how they work and learn together in class and around the school.
As part of the broader curriculum, children 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. A recent example of this was evidenced in the whole school Reading Week, when the focus was Crime and Punishment. The week involved looking at the effects of law and law breaking through literature, supported by members of our local police force. The police also provide a valuable input to Year 6 on cyber bullying and how to stay safe online.
Children learn about the importance of individual liberty through assemblies and our PDL curriculum. They learn that liberties carry responsibility; children learn that they can express themselves, their views and beliefs but need to do so in a way that respects others. Alongside rules and laws, we promote freedom of choice and the right to respectfully express views and beliefs. We believe it is important that all adults in the school model these behaviours.
Mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs
Wicor serves an area which cannot be considered culturally diverse. We believe it is perhaps more important therefore to ensure our curriculum engages children with people from different backgrounds, cultures and beliefs. We have achieved this through our assemblies, links with other schools, pen pals from other countries, our residential visits programme and local visits to other cultural centres. For many years pupils from Years 4, 5 and 6 have taken part in the Rock Challenge. This has engaged the children in exploring other cultures and beliefs, as well as providing opportunities to work alongside children from other communities. Our RE curriculum is based on Hampshire County Council’s RE syllabus Living Difference III.