Karen Stebbings is Assistant Head (Pastoral) and Head of Sixth Form at Derby Grammar School, an independent day school based in Derby which educates boys from Reception through to Sixth Form, and girls in Sixth Form. Here she talks about how the school promotes British values during the school day.
The wider responsibility of a school
Wherever a child attends school, it is important that the school allows the child to flourish academically whilst also embracing the wider role of preparing them for their adult life beyond the formal examined curriculum.
Part of this role for schools is to ensure they promote and reinforce British Values to their pupils.
The government set out its definition of British Values in the 2011 Prevent Strategy and the Department for Education have recently 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.”
At Derby Grammar School we seek to embed British Values across our curriculum and in our behaviours. It is important to us this it is embedded within our daily life, and certainly not seen as an ‘extra’.
Democracy is prevalent within the school. Our pupils have the opportunity to have their voices heard through School Council and pupil questionnaires. We use this process for important decisions within our school community, and it is important that everyone can see, first hand, how the process works.
From a curricular point of view, the principle of democracy is explored in History, Religious Education, PSHE and through current affairs sessions. Our participation in the European Youth Parliament debating competition adds a further dimension to our pupils’ understanding of democratic processes.
The Rule of Law
The importance of laws, whether they be those that govern the class, the school, or the country, are consistently reinforced throughout the school day, as well as when dealing with. Pupils learn to understand the value of and reasons behind laws; that they govern and protect us, the responsibilities that this involves and the consequences when laws are broken. Regular visits throughout the academic year from professions including the Police, Fire Service and lawyers help reinforce this message.
Within school, we actively encourage our pupils to make choices, knowing that they are in a safe and supportive environment. They are encouraged to know, understand and exercise their rights and personal freedoms and we advise them how to exercise these safely, for example through our E-Safety and PSHE lessons.
Whether it be through choice of challenge, of how they record, of participation in our numerous co-curricular clubs and opportunities, pupils are given the freedom to make choices.
‘Respect’ is one of our core values at Derby Grammar School. Pupils are part of discussions and assemblies related to what this means and how it is shown. Respect for others is reiterated through our classroom and learning rules, as well as our expectations of behaviour.
We believe it is essential we teach our pupils that they have the right to have their own thoughts and opinions, but also that there is a fine line that must not be crossed and that, on occasion, a throwaway comment can lead to someone feeling offended by the remark made.
Tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs
We live in a wonderfully diverse society. Here at school we aim to enhance our pupils’ understanding of their place in a culturally diverse society by giving them opportunities to experience such diversity.
For example, assemblies and discussions involving prejudices have been followed up and supported by learning in RE and PSHE.
We encourage members of different faiths or religions to be proud of and celebrate their cultural diversity, enhancing learning inside and outside lesson time.