Background and Rationale
Though it has acquired a greater urgency in recent months, the importance of schools espousing British values is not new:
- The 2008 National Curriculum includes the following statement:
The school curriculum should contribute to the development of pupils’ sense of identity through knowledge and understanding of the spiritual, moral, social and cultural heritages of Britain’s diverse society and of the local, national, European, Commonwealth and global dimensions of their lives
- The 2011 Teachers’ Standards state, as part of teachers’ personal and professional conduct:
Teachers uphold public trust in the profession and maintain high standards of ethics and behaviour, within and outside school, by not undermining fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect, and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs
- These values support the national Prevent Strategy, put before Parliament in 2011 by the Home Secretary as a response to radicalisation of British citizens.
The Prevent Strategy recognises the importance of schools in counter-terrorism activities. More recently, concerns about the inappropriate actions of some schools were highlighted in the Birmingham Trojan Horse case, where a number of OFSTED inspections revealed a failure to promote British values adequately in some schools, meaning that young people in them were vulnerable to radical and extremist ideas. Consequently, all schools need a clear statement of British values and how they are promoted through the school’s curriculum.
What is meant by “British Values”?
We believe that the following list exemplifies some of the values held dear by British citizens:
- Respect of the rule of law
- Appreciation of the rights of other citizens
- Individual liberty
- The promotion of opportunities for all
- Support for those who cannot, by themselves, sustain a dignified life-style
- Religious tolerance and respect for cultural diversity
- Treating others with fairness
- Participation in community life
- The contribution to, as well as the benefit from, cultural and economic resources
Although this list is not exhaustive, we believe it encapsulates the attitudes Heath Lane Academy values and seeks to inculcate in its young people.
How does Heath Lane Academy go about promoting these values?
At Heath Lane Academy we believe that our statement of vision and values, found on the school’s website, makes explicit our fundamental belief in many of these values. This statement is the foundation of all our work with our students.
British values are embodied in the following more specific ways:
- Our school’s motto is “Be The Best”. All students are regularly spoken to about the importance of these attributes for success in school. Explanations of each of this point are provided visually all around the school for the benefit of our community and for visitors.
- All our students study RE (also known as Philosophy and Ethics) from Year 7 to Year 8. The majority of students then take this subject as a GCSE from Year 9.
- The RE curriculum contains the following elements which are directly applicable to promoting British values:
- Neighbourliness and Charity
- The Family
- Interfaith relationships
- Religion and Equality
- Religion, Peace and Justice
- Students participate in one 60 minute lesson per week of Personal, Social, Health and Citizenship Education from Years 7 to 8. These lessons, known in school as “Skills for Life”, are taught by staff on a carousel basis in order that they can work in particular areas of expertise.
- The Skills for Life curriculum and Pastoral program has a citizenship modules and these contain the following directly relevant elements:
- What does it mean to be British
- Crime and the law
- Local citizenship and the importance of voting in a democracy
- Human rights and responsibilities
- Extremism and terrorism
- Government and Politics is also embedded throughout the Pastoral and tutoring program.
- Assemblies, held once a week led by senior member of staff, focus on many of these identified elements through their fortnightly themes.
- The school’s system of organising students in Academy encourages involvement of every pupil in school life. AcademyCouncils feed into a whole school council which encourages active participation in the school community.
- We also have Street Pastors supporting our students with understand various faiths and religions and cultures
The school supports local, national and international charities.