It is ours, and every school’s responsibility “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 Heronsgate we promote these values at all times in the following ways:
At the beginning of each year children at Heronsgate affirm the school’s expectations of staff and pupil behaviour and the rights and responsibilities associated with these. The children and staff are all responsible for upholding the school rules and values, resulting in a positive and harmonious ethos.
Children have many opportunities for their voices to be heard. We have a School Council which meets regularly to discuss how to resolve issues raised in class. School Council Representatives are voted for by their peers at the start of each academic year. Each child who is interested in standing as a school councillor writes a manifesto and shares it with the other children. A secret ballot is held and voting takes places. Children understand that a place on the School Council comes with the responsibility of representing their peers’ needs and interests.
We encourage children to be leaders throughout the school and we have a number of activities and responsibilities that are undertaken by the children. For example, pupils from Upper Key Stage 2 are buddies and peer mentors at lunch and play times. They are responsible for encouraging all children to take part at playtime, for example by inviting them into games.
Democracy is taught during assemblies and during class-based PSHCE sessions. Children regularly get opportunities to express their views in school through Pupil Voice interviews and questionnaires.
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 regular school days at Heronsgate, as well as when dealing with behaviour and through school assemblies. At the start of each year, children have the opportunity to develop their own class rules with their class teacher, allowing them to take ownership of their own behaviour in school. All staff have high expectations of behaviour and it is seen as an absolute priority by the entire school community. Children know what is expected of them, why rules are so important, and what the consequences are if they do not follow them.
At Heronsgate we ensure that children are acutely aware of the responsibilities that come with having rights. Children develop a thorough understanding of personal responsibility and develop independence in managing relationships and behaviour. Through our PSHCE and values-based curriculum, we enable children to develop the language and strategies to solve conflict and right wrongs. Pupils are taught the value and reasons behind laws, that they govern and protect us, and the consequences when laws are broken. Visits from authorities and groups such as the Police, Fire Service, children’s charities etc. are regular parts of our calendar and help reinforce this message.
Heronsgate is a safe place for children and cultivates an atmosphere in which children can make choices about their school life in a supportive environment. We educate our pupils to know that they have boundaries within which they may make choices safely. Pupils are encouraged to know, understand, and exercise their rights and personal freedoms and are advised on how to exercise these safely, for example through our e-Safety and PSHCE lessons. Whether it is through choice of challenge, of how they record, or of participation in our numerous extra-curricular clubs and opportunities, pupils are given the freedom to make choices.
The ethos of our school nurtures an understanding of mutual respect, where children learn to treat each other as equals and with shared regard for each other’s talents and differences. Respect is one of 11 core values at Heronsgate, and is modelled by all staff at all times. The children and staff are connected to our school values and work in a manner that encourages everyone to achieve to their highest ability. Assemblies and PSHCE lessons regularly cover ‘Respect’, when pupils have been part of discussions related to what this means and how we show it. When a child does well, their achievement is displayed and shared for everyone to learn from their positive attitude and commitment. Effort in learning is highly respected and the whole school is focused on developing an intrinsic sense of worth and achievement.
Tolerance of those of Different Faiths and Beliefs
Children at Heronsgate are given frequent opportunities to experience diversity and are encouraged to see their place in a modern culturally rich society. Being situated in one of the most culturally diverse boroughs in London, we have within our school a wide range of different faiths, beliefs, languages and cultures. We regularly hold whole-school assemblies to celebrate and learn about the numerous religious festivals that happen throughout the school year. Further to that, assemblies around prejudices and prejudice-based bullying are supported through learning in RE and PSHCE. We harness cultural links in our classes and often reach out into the community to support our teaching: for example, the school has a high-profile ‘Language of the Term’ that runs throughout the year, linked to languages spoken by our EAL pupils and within the local community. Children experience influences from all over the world in their classrooms, and enjoy taking part in celebratory events that recognise and value difference, such as Black History Month workshops and ‘One World Week’.