The DFE have recently reinforced the need to create and enforce a clear and rigorous expectation on all schools to promote the fundamental British Values of:
- The rule of law
- Individual liberty
- Mutual respect and tolerance of different faith and beliefs
The government set out its definition of British values in 2011 Prevent Strategy. At St Thomas More Catholic School, British values are regularly reinforced in a variety of ways.
Thomas More is a Catholic school which seeks to live out the values of Jesus Christ. We promote these values by our words and deeds and Catholic doctrine and practice therefore permeates every aspect of the school’s activity. We provide a Catholic curriculum, which is broad and balanced, recognising that every pupil is unique and is created in the image of God (Gen 1:27). Our curriculum is designed to enable every pupil to discern their vocation and to be well-equipped to follow it as active citizens in service to the world. Catholic Religious Education is the “core of the core curriculum” (Pope St John Paul 11) and the foundation of the entire educational process. We also provide a wide range of extra-curricular activities and strong pastoral support. We incorporate democratic principles, value the rule of law, support individual liberty and foster community in which different faiths and beliefs are respected.
Students are given the opportunity to have their voices heard through our school council. In doing so we actively serve to promote the democratic process, foster the concept of freedom of speech and group action to address the needs and concerns of our school community.
The election of our school council is organised through student voice and takes the following format.
- Students elect Form representatives to the Year Council via student vote.
- Students elect Year Council representative to the Executive School Council via student vote.
- The Chair and Vice Chair of the School Council are elected from the Executive School council via student vote.
In addition our students participate in Walsall Youth Parliament elections and have had over recent years two members of our year eleven student body elected to this body; Trevor Taderera (Steve) and Joscel Manirambona (2015 – 2016).
Democracy – at St Thomas More Catholic School we aim to:
- Include in the curriculum information and opportunities to learn about the parliamentary and democratic system in Britain.
- Provide pupils with a board general knowledge of, and promote respect for, British Institutions – (Business Studies Visits to Bank of England, RE study of Christianity and church in England).
- Teach students how they can influence decision – making through the democratic process in school and ensure they are listened to (re-design of school PE kit involving students, student culinary voice re meals in school canteen, type of rewards for rewards system.
- Explain the advantages and disadvantages of democracy and how it works in Britain (RE- Community Cohesion Unit 4 in both Year Ten and Eleven).
- Develop students’ ability to learn how to argue and defend points of view.
- Help students to express their views in a variety of situations (collaborative learning in lessons, cross-curricular days).
This is further evidenced by/ through:
- The presence and function of our school council.
- The use of debate as a medium for discussion and formation of opinion – lesson time.
- The inclusion of student voice in selection process of our Head Boy/ Head Girl and deputies
- The use of student voice so that our student opinions are gathered, listened to and acted upon.
- The creation of mock elections – General Election May 2015.
- Participation in the Youth Parliament – Trevor Taderera (Steve) and Joscel Mairambona (2015 – 2016).
The Rule of Law
During the school year the importance of laws, be they those governing the individual, the class group or the whole school, are consistently reinforced, students understand these rules and are taught the value of these rules and rules in general British Society. They understand that school rules and rules in general are designed to guide and protect us and that there are consequences when these are broken. Students also understand and support that abiding by agreed rules creates and results in rewards. At the start of each school year and term form tutors and the Pastoral Team review our commonly agreed and accepted school rules. Visits from local authority groups, such as the Police and the Fire Service support our efforts to reinforce this message.
The Rule of Law – at St Thomas More Catholic School we aim to:
- Ensure that school rules and expectations are clear and fair (Consequence and Reward Ladder clearly displayed around school, in our student handbook and are common to all year groups and Key Stages).
- Help students to distinguish right from wrong (issuing of consequences, detentions and sanctions when school rules are broken but equally VIVOs and other forms of reward when school expectations regarding behaviour are met).
- Help students to understand how and where laws are made why it is important to respect the law (Form Time News, RE lessons).
- Support students in their understanding that there is a difference between religious and criminal law, (RE lessons particularly KS4 and 5 Abortion and Euthanasia moral theory etc.
This is further evidenced by/ through:
- The creation of class rules
- Possessing a clear behaviour policy that is explained and known to all
- Visits from our local Community Police to reinforce the message of right and wrong.
- Highlighting via the Re: Curriculum the rules of the Church, for example the Ten Commandments, Beatitudes and Church doctrine.
- Demonstrating the development of the well regarding inclusivity and tolerance.
- Via RE lessons – highlighting and encouraging a deeper awareness of the traditions and beliefs of other religious communities as a foundation for respect and understanding.
During the school day, whilst travelling to and from school and on residential, students are supported and encouraged to develop their personal autonomy in making personal choices in a safe, secure and supportive environment. Students are educated in a climate where boundaries are in place thereby allowing students to make safe choices. Students are supported in developing their knowledge and understanding of their nights and personal freedom and how to exercise rights safely.
Individual liberty – at St Thomas More Catholic School we aim to:
- Support students in their development of their self-esteem and self-confidence in reading in services, assemblies, undertaking leadership roles, dealing with parents evening, induction group etc.
- Encourage students to take personal responsibility for their own behaviour of reward e.g. Praise Assemblies, Reward Evenings etc.
- Challenge stereotypes e.g. RE lessons PSHE lessons, PE lessons etc.
This is further evidenced by/through:
- Encouraging independence of learning (Teep)
- Providing our students with regular opportunities for reflection regarding their personal vocation e.g. Assemblies, Chapel based reflection, retreats to Alton Castle and Soli House.
Mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faith and beliefs
As a school respect is central to our value system and is the foundation stone of our school ethos and behaviour policy .Students gain a solid understanding of what this value means, how it is shown and why we value it as a core principle of behaviour. Our school and class room rules and our behaviour policy reinforce this ethos.
Our tolerance of those who follow and live by the tenents of other faith backgrounds and beliefs is encouraged by and through our ethos of respect. During RE lessons particularly in KS3, students study the background and practices of a variety of faiths including Christianity Hinduism, Sikhism, Islam and Judaism.
Furthermore Sikhism in RE and PSHE lessons students are provided with the opportunity to consider, discuss and review the impact and consequences of religious and racial intolerance and prejudice – based bullying.
Mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faith and beliefs at St Thomas More Catholic School. We aim to:
- Promote respect for individual differences e.g. Discussion during form time, RE, PSHE lessons re differing opinions. Form prayer and collective worship considering the unique differences within society.
- Support students’ acquisition and understanding of and respect for their own culture and that of other eg. Music lessons featuring varieties of musical style, Art lessons concentrating on culture styles of art, English lessons investigating different genres of writing.
- Help our student to challenge prejudice and discriminatory behaviour e.g. Students reporting of behaviours that offend or upset their value systems.
- Promote discussion surrounding the differences that exist between people e.g. faith, ethnicity, disability, gender, sexuality and family situations e.g. schemes of work in RE in Year 10 and Year 11.