British Values and Our Catholic Ethos The government set out its definition of ‘British values’ in the ‘Prevent Strategy’ (2011), which was designed to prevent the extremism and religious radicalisation of young people. British values are considered by the present government to be democracy, rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs. The promotion of ‘British values’ is central to Catholic education because British values have their origin in the Christian values of our nation.
“We are proud that Catholic schools promote values that are both Catholic and British, including: respect for the individual, democracy, individual liberty, respect, tolerance and inclusiveness. Our schools promote cohesion by serving more ethnically diverse and poorer communities. Catholic schools provide high standards of education which are popular with parents from all social, economic and faith backgrounds.”
(Paul Barber – Catholic Education Service 15 December 2014).
At Cheadle Catholic Junior School we recognise, not only the importance of helping students to flourish academically but also spiritually, morally, socially and culturally, so they are fully prepared for life in British society and for their role as citizens, able to make the strongest possible contribution to the Common Good of all.
We teach the importance of British Values by going much deeper into the meaning of what it means to live a good life, within a framework of Catholic Christian Values. This provides the context and meaning for understanding why British values are important. Our framework for understanding British values draws on the example of Jesus and his welcome and inclusion of all, which is developed in Catholic Social Teaching.
We are guided by our mission statement ‘Forward in Faith – following in the footsteps of Jesus’ and by the Christian values of honourable purpose (that is, vocation and service), respect, compassion, co-operation and stewardship as we reflect on our place and purpose in the world. We place a significant emphasis on the celebration of individuality and difference within our communities and our calling to work for the Common Good, in the service of others.
Our Catholic ethos, which includes explicit reference to Christian and British values, makes a tangible difference to the way we work together and with our wider communities. Within this framework it would be impossible to overlook the government’s view of British values expressed as ‘democracy, rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs.’
At Cheadle Catholic Junior School, British Values is an integral part within the Curriculum. This has taken the form of both stand-alone themes such as Justice Week and Democracy Day, and through cross curricular links such as Multi Faith Day and RE. Wherever possible, we strive to deliver British Values through an interesting approach throughout all areas of the Curriculum.
During Justice week, we invited members of our school community (parents, grandparents, friends) who work or have worked or have knowledge about the British Justice System. Each year group had opportunities to work alongside these experts. Some year groups participated in drama and role plays, others wrote notes whilst a speaker was talking and shared that with other members of the group. Various scenarios were shared with the children, prompting the question “What would I do if…?” and discussions which arose from their answers. The children explored the idea of being innocent until proven guilty, and how everyone in this country has the right to a fair trial. Mind maps which were done individually, in groups or with a talking partner were created and amended showing what the children have learnt and gained from this experience. Posters and explanation writing was also undertaken from the children’s experience of the week.
Where appropriate, the children have been given the opportunity to explore Justice in other areas of the Curriculum. For instance, in Year 5, the children recently completed a topic based on the Anglo Saxons. Within the lesson the children explored the law system and punishments used during Anglo Saxon times. In this, various discussions emerged whereby the children could relate which laws made in the past are just as relevant today.
In Year 6, the children in Literacy explored the question, “Why were the Jewish people treated so badly during World War 2?” From this, excellent discussions were created. The children researched the type of racial and religious injustice/discrimination through using “The Diary of Anne Frank” as their main literacy resource. The children thoroughly enjoyed the biographical account of Anne Frank, and the follow up discussions and writing was done with maturity and empathy.
The Children have explored justice and injustice through various Bible stories-in both the Old and New Testament. In addition, all children have been taught in depth about different faiths and other cultures.
Our school held a Democracy Day. A guest speaker from the Parliament Service spoke to the whole school about what Parliament is, the role of MP’s, the voting system and debating. This links into a previous topic on the Greeks where the children looked at the origin of the word “Democracy” and what it means and how members of citizens get represented in the democratic process.
The use of democracy is key within our school as many of the groups such as schools council, SPAM and Bully Busters have been voted in using “secret ballots” in a democratic manner. Those children who have been voted in have regular meetings with the teachers who organise such groups and are actively encouraged to feed-back information to their peers in class, even going to the extent of planning lessons which encourage the class to take responsibility for their actions for instance keeping Safe on the Internet posters (Cyber Bullying).