At St Thomas More Catholic School we recognise not only the importance of allowing pupils to flourish academically but we also embrace our wider role in preparing them for their adult life beyond the formal examined curriculum. Part of our role in that preparation is ensuring that we promote and reinforce British values to our pupils.
British Values were first outlined by the government in its Prevent Strategy in 2011 and in November 2014 the Department for Education published its guidance on promoting British Values in schools to ensure that young people leave school prepared for life in Modern Britain. At St Thomas More Catholic School these values are reinforced in a pervasive manner and permeate the school community.
The examples that follow are an indication of some of the many ways we seek to embed British Values at St Thomas More Catholic School and should be seen as an indication of our approach rather than an exhaustive list.
At St Thomas More Catholic School the principle of democracy is consistently reinforced, with the democratic process being employed for important decisions within the school community and beyond, for instance the nomination and election of form captains, the position of Head girl / head boy and the prefect system. The principle of democracy is explored in History and Religious Studies as well as in pastoral time and assemblies. Pupils have also had the opportunity to take part in school General Elections as well as having a school vote on the EU referendum.
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 and through school assemblies. Pupils are taught the values and reasons behind laws, that they govern and protect us, the responsibilities that this involves and the consequences when laws are broken. Visits from authorities such as the Police and Fire Service are regular parts of our pastoral Programme and help reinforce this message. Links have also been forged with Northumbria University who come into school to talk about the Law and Justice System. Pupils at Key Stage 3 also take part in an annual Mock Trial Competition organised by Young Citizens and Smart Law.
Within St Thomas More Catholic School pupils are actively encouraged to make independent choices knowing that they are in a safe, secure and supportive environment. As a school we educate and provide boundaries for pupils to make choices safely, through the provision of a safe environment and an empowering education. Pupils are encouraged to know, understand and exercise their rights, responsibilities and personal freedoms and receive advice about how to exercise these safely, for example through our exploration of E-Safety in computing and their tutor time activities.
Respect is at the core of our school ethos and the school behaviour blueprint promotes the behaviours of ‘being ready, being respectful and being safe’ throughout the school community. This is demonstrated and modelled through the promotion of respect between all pupils and staff within the school. The importance of mutual respect is also seen in the extra curricular programme in school especially within the different disciplines of sport and the pastoral inter house competitions.
In line with our commitment to democracy pupils are always able to voice their opinions and we foster an environment where pupils are safe to disagree with each other. The development of St Thomas More Catholic School’s Learning Curriculum across the school develops mutual respect throughout the curriculum providing guidance on the importance of respect and responsibility. The school forum also provides the pupils with an arena where they can bring up and discuss any issues that may undermine the school ethos.
This is achieved through equipping pupils with the ability to understand their place in a culturally diverse society and by giving them opportunities to experience such diversity within the school community. All pupils experience a structured approach to PSHE through our pastoral Programmes where global themes and cultures are explored. Citizenship sessions in year 7 examine the ‘Changing Nature of UK Society’ looking at diversity in their school and local community as well as their own identity as a citizen of the North East of England. In year 8 this theme is continued through looking at migration to the UK, as well as what makes a model British Citizen and how proud the pupils are to be British. Each year the school also recognises the the UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Racism and Discrimination as well as the British Red Cross Refugee Week. Supporting these sessions and the school curriculum we also run numerous trips abroad throughout the academic year and during the summer term activity week from which our pupils gain valuable experience of other cultures and languages. This is even extended to the school catering where special food ‘theme’ days are organised to celebrate both British and World events. Furthermore, our Religious Studies curriculum provides a broad and balanced education on a range of faiths, religions and cultures.