Under Section 78 of the Education Act (2002) we must promote the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of the children in our care and ensure we are actively promoting fundamental British values. Recent events in other schools, across our country and throughout the world have raised concerns about how we should be preparing our children for their later lives and protecting them against the wrong influences. The Department for Education has made it clear that we should be highlighting the British values of democracy, rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs.
At first sight it could seem we are required to be teaching something new; yet as a Church school with a trust deed and an ethos and mission statement consistently reviewed to reflect our school, we know we have been living out these values always.
Church schools are recognised for their distinctive Christian ethos and the impact this has on standards and all-round education. Church of England schools serve children from wide-ranging and diverse communities because we believe that everyone is made in the image of God and has unique potential. We offer all our children opportunities to grow spiritually and to understand Christianity as well as other faiths, customs and beliefs and opinions.
In formulating our school ethos we considered this tradition of church schools, remembered the foundation of Christian faith that informs them, and have wanted to convey that our faith is real and communicated in word and action, so we state that:
“We nurture every child and family in our school community and encourage our children to develop Christian values of love, friendship and respect for all around them. We inspire their curiosity and support their learning to prepare them for their future.”
And this is summarised in our motto which makes clear our inclusive and respectful outlook: ‘Cherish All, Learn Together, and Fly’.
We believe we can help children fulfil their academic potential and spiritual growth within a caring and inclusive church family; and that church school education is truly holistic as it concerns itself with the growth and development of people’s minds, bodies and spirits.
We have always been helping children to work together, to be responsive to the needs of others and to respect each other’s beliefs.
We encourage working as a team in class and in PE, and the practices of learning partners, collaborative learning, shared endeavours, celebration of success and mutual support and encouragement is embedded in our school.
We work within and for our community. We make links with the village Pre-School, sharing events both fund-raising and to mark festivities like Harvest. We engage often with our village Church and our Year 4 children dance the maypole at the Cranborne Manor Fete each year.
Our behaviour and anti-bullying policies uphold our Christian beliefs, for example they speak of forgiveness but they uphold values the Department of Education say we must promote too, of course. They are a process to enable children to know the difference between right and wrong, to be tolerant and consider others in all they say and do. We teach through this and in other areas of the curriculum such as Class Worship and Circle times that different people can hold different opinions and practices but there are some absolutes just like the laws of this land and so we have a behaviour management system that makes this clear.
Our Home-School agreement reflects how parents and children work with our school to ensure the community are all working towards the same outcomes and ideals.
Our School Council is elected democratically. The voting system we used, the ballot slips and representation mirror the democratic ideals that we term a ‘British value’.
Our children in KS2 were further enabled to understand the parliamentary system with a visit in March 2017 from the Parliamentary Outreach Worker. She came and ran a workshop for the children to learn about the Houses of Parliament and the procedures they uphold. The children also participated in debates about contentious issues that prompted them to consider the right and wrong of different scenarios and from different perspectives.
The sporting values the children strive for in PE lessons centre around personal values and conduct, belief in our own abilities, learning to handle success and defeat, and working as part of a team and these have been woven into weekly classroom aspirations too. As the children demonstrate the values they are awarded temporary custody of the trophy to celebrate their achievement of Determination, Respect, Honesty, Teamwork and Self-Belief.
Our published Medium term planning and learning overviews make clear the focus that term in the teaching for Spiritual, Moral, Cultural and Social Development.
Our Collective Worship planning reflects the pattern of the Church calendar, but it also consolidates learning in the classroom, not only in RE. Our support for charities, and our celebration of success and hard work in all areas of life in and out of school reaffirms our ideals.
Our RE teaching modules cover Christianity and another faith in detail as well as exploration of Travellers and their customs and values. We are responding to experiences that children in our school do share and presenting them with ideas that are new and outside their experience.
Our premises further equality and accessibility for all and additions like our acoustic panels demonstrate our desire to be a fully inclusive and cherishing school community.
Our respect for all is reflected in our practices in school and the message I give to all new families and staff. We ask that they too respect our Christian ideals, but acknowledge that each and every one of us is at a different place on our own spiritual journey. We provide the soil and ‘invite others to put down their roots’ just as we invite the children to pray in Worship. We use phrases like ‘if you agree with our prayer, you can say Amen at the end’ and we stress that it is each person’s choice to pray, but not their right to distract anyone else who wants to pray. In all these ways we celebrate difference and embed respect.
We are careful that all our teaching is age and developmentally appropriate when we present ideas, but this in no way dilutes the impact. Whilst the ultimate aim is to develop an understanding of the importance of identifying and combatting discrimination, we may be using words like ‘fair’ and ‘share’ with our four and five year olds.
Finally, we are very clear that in all our teaching, upholding of Christian ideals and response to guidance we are working with our families. The partnership we build is crucial and respected by everyone in school. We do not replace the values taught at home, and we seek not to contradict them.