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.
At Our Lady and St John’s 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. At Our Lady and St John’s we provide an education which focuses on the formation of the whole person and on our vocation and purpose in life. 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.’ The examples that follow are an indication of some of the many ways we seek to embed British values at Our Lady and St John’s and should be seen as an indication of our approach rather than an exhaustive list.
The Rule of Law
The importance of laws, whether they be those that govern the class, our school, or the country, are consistently reinforced throughout every day, as well as when dealing with behaviour and through assemblies. The curriculum is designed to ensure children 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.
Our children are actively encouraged to make independent choices knowing that they are in a safe, secure and supportive environment. We encourage students to see themselves as unique individuals able to make a unique contribution to building our local, national and global community. Children 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.
Mutual Respect Our code of conduct actively promotes the values of respect and responsibility and this is reiterated through our classroom and learning environments as well as extra-curricular activities such as sport. In line with our commitment to democracy, students are always able to voice their opinions as we foster an environment where students can debate ideas and are safe to disagree with each other. Our emphasis on fairness and justice means that we ask our students to ensure that they look out for those who might be marginalised and disadvantaged. We take a very strong stance on social inclusion and anti-bullying through an explicit focus on strategies to enable respect.
Tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs
This is achieved through equipping students with the ability to develop positive values, understand their own beliefs and their place in a culturally diverse society. students experience a connection with other cultures and beliefs through our RE curriculum and local, regional and international links. Our Religious Studies curriculum follows the teaching of the Church in providing a broad and balanced education, which includes an understanding of and respect for people of other faiths or none and other religions, cultures and lifestyles.