The Department of 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.”
The Government set out its definition of British values in the 2011 Prevent Strategy, and these values have been reiterated by the Prime Minister this year as part of the Counter Terrorism Act, February 2015. At The Priory School these values are reinforced regularly and in the following ways:
At The Priory School democracy is taken very seriously. Students are actively encouraged to have a voice and share their views and opinions regularly. Our school parliament and student House Executive team are examples of this. Every year our Head Boy and Girl campaign for election to represent their peers’ views to the Principal and SLT, with a democratic election process. During the recent General Election of 2015 the whole school took part in a mock election to mirror the process students could be involved in when they reach voting age. The role of democracy is addressed through the humanities curriculum as well as our Life programme. Our Heads of House meet regularly with their House Executive student team in order to discuss House matters. Similarly the Principal meets twice weekly with the Head Boy and Head Girl to share views and comments.
All departments collect student voice feedback as part of their on-going monitoring of the quality of teaching and learning, allowing pupils a voice in what happens within the classroom. A detailed pupil survey is also carried out by the Senior Leadership Team to include our student community’s views within whole school self-evaluation.
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 behaviour and through school House and year assemblies. Students are taught the value and reasons behind laws, that they govern and protect us, the responsibilities that this involves and the consequences when laws are broken. Our schools rules, rewards and sanctions which are displayed in all classrooms, referred to regularly and consistently upheld are a practical example of this.
Visits from authorities such as the Police and external agencies help reinforce this message.
Within school, students are actively encouraged to make decisions and choices, knowing that they are in a safe and supportive environment. As a school we educate and provide boundaries for young children to take risks and make choices safely. Students are encouraged to know, understand and exercise their rights and personal freedoms and advised how to exercise these safely, for example through our E-Safety talks and the Life programme. Whether it be through participation in one of our extra-curricular clubs and opportunities, student voice within the curriculum or simply in their daily life in school. Our students are given the freedom to make choices and make decisions. One of our expectations for our students is that they make good decisions. Year 11 students are given the opportunity to run for a position of responsibility within a subject area or as part of the House system. This allows them to contribute positively to the school community.
Mutual respect is at the heart of our values, this is epitomised by our thriving House system as well as our vision that our students develop the characteristics of being Selfless, Self- assured and Successful. Students learn that their behaviours have an effect on their own rights and those of others through a tight knit House tutor system. All members of the school community are taught to treat each other with respect.
Tolerance of Those of Different Faiths and Beliefs
The Priory School is situated in an area which is not culturally diverse, therefore we place a great emphasis on promoting and celebrating diversity with the children. Assemblies are regularly planned to address the importance of respect, tolerance and selflessness. They comment upon regional, national and international events directly related to extremism and the importance of a tolerant society. Our Religious Philosophy, Life and tutorial programme reinforce this. By the time they leave us all students have learnt about the beliefs and practices of people of the following world faiths; Judaism, Sikhism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam.
At the Priory School we will actively challenge children, staff or parents expressing opinions contrary to fundamental British Values, including those expressing ‘extremist’ views.
Preventing Radicalisation and Extremism
Radicalisation is defined as the act or process of making a person more radical or favouring of extreme or fundamental changes in political, economic or social conditions, institutions or habits of the mind.
Extremism is defined as the holding of extreme political or religious views.
The Governing Body of The Priory School has a zero tolerance approach to extremist behaviour for all school community members. We rely on our strong values to steer our work and ensure the pastoral care of our children protects them from exposure to negative influences.
The Priory School is fully committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of all its children. As a school we recognise that safeguarding against radicalisation is no different from safeguarding against any other vulnerability. At the Priory all staff are expected to uphold and promote the fundamental principles of British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect, and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs. These values and professional conduct are outlined within the staff code of conduct.
Students are encouraged to adopt and live out our values and are expounded within our expectations around behaviour and our student code of conduct. It is also reflected in our school values of Selfless, Self-assured and Successful, and an expectation that students make good choices, which permeates all we do as a school community. These complement the key “British Values” of tolerance, respect, understanding, compassion and harmonious living. They are taught how to keep themselves safe, in school and when using the internet through the curriculum and in enrichment activities. Our students are supported in making good choices from a young age, so they understand the impact and consequences of their actions on others. Our House ethos builds on upon their values around team work as well as their own individual resilience and thought for others.
The Role of the Curriculum
Our curriculum promotes respect, tolerance and diversity. Children are encouraged to express themselves through discussions, debates and consultations. The RP (Religious Philosophy), PSHE (Personal, Social and Health Education), Citizenship and SMSC (Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural) provision is embedded across the curriculum, and underpins the ethos of our school. Children learn about all major faiths and visit places of worship wherever possible at KS3 and 4. Radicalisation and the dangers around extremism are delivered within units of our Life programme through a specialist team of teachers. They are also taught about how to stay safe when using the internet within ICT lessons at KS3, tutor time, assemblies and extra sessions with external companies around e-safety.
Although serious incidents involving radicalisation have not occurred at The Priory to date, it is important for us to be constantly vigilant and remain fully informed about the issues which affect the region in which we teach. Staff are reminded to suspend any professional disbelief that instances of radicalisation ‘could not happen here’ and to refer any concerns through the Child Protection/ Safeguarding Designated Leads.