There has been much media interest over the concept of Britishness in our schools, and this has been further highlighted in a recent statement from the Prime Minister. It is for this reason that we set out how ‘Britishness’ has been taught and promoted at St Nicolas CE Primary School this year.
In September children from Year 2 and up are elected to our School Parliament and have the role of listening to and acting upon the views of their peers. They have met regularly to discuss and find solutions to whole school issues. This year, with a very small Year 6, we did not hold elections for House Captain’s however post holders were required to hold a conference detailing their plans for their team, in a similar way as undertaking a campaign/speech prior to election. These leaders take an active lead in organising inter-house competitions throughout the year. At St Nicolas, teachers have regularly sought the views of the children in all class, through Class Learning Forums, whether this is linked to planning class themes or making class decisions.
The School Parliament has also played an active role in creating and analysing the annual pupil questionnaires and will present an action plan to the Headteacher and Governors in July. Their opinions are held in high esteem and usually integrated into the school’s development plan.
The children in Year 4-6 have also met with local politicians to help them understand the idea of democracy in the UK and how elections work. this also involved setting up a 'mock election' with the children learning about how elections work within the UK.
The Rule of Law
The importance of laws, whether they govern the class, the school or the country are consistently reinforced at St Nicolas. Our curriculum helps all our children understand the need for ‘rules’ as a way of protecting our school community and the consequences when laws are broken. The school has invited representatives of the Police and Fire Service who reinforced this message, as well as visits from the RNLI. Collective worship also plays a part in helping children see the need to follow laws to ensure we uphold our strong Christian values.
Freedom & Tolerance
Within school, children are actively encouraged to make choices, knowing that they are in a safe and supportive environment. We have created a school that is supportive of our pupils; a school that encourages our children to take risk and reflect on their achievements and mishaps. This enables the children to make the right choices. It also gives children the vocabulary to enter into a dialogue with others in their decision making.
It is equally important for all our pupils to learn that everyone has their own view or way of doing things and that it is important that we show ‘tolerance’ of these differences. Assemblies and story-telling are just two of the ways that we have promoted the concept of tolerance towards others. For our older pupils, discussions over current affairs have been the theme for weekly class assemblies. All classes have tasted food from India as a way of understanding the differences between different cultures.
Respect is a core school value which is celebrated. The school fosters respect for each other, the school, the community and beyond. Staff maintain a respectful relationship with each other, the children and their parents. We are keen to support and encourage children’s interests, both in and out of school. Our school values, of which respect is just one, permeate the school and our reward systems.
Tolerance of those in Different Faiths & Beliefs
This is achieved through enhancing pupils understanding of their place in a culturally diverse society and by giving them opportunities to experience some of this diversity. Collective Worship and Multi-cultural assemblies have been used to raise awareness of life beyond Downderry. Our curriculum frequently involved discussions that focus on challenging prejudices. The teachers are highly skilled in creating classroom environments where the children feel safe in expressing their views and where these can be challenged in a considered and age appropriate way. We actively encourage children and parents from different cultural backgrounds to share their experiences with school (for example, a pupil from Hong Kong shared their experience of their previous school; a Dutch parent shared her childhood experience of life in occupied Holland). Members of different faiths or religions are utilised as a curriculum resource to share their knowledge to enhance learning within classes and the school.
We live in a an area of the country that does not reflect the same cultural diversity as elsewhere in the UK, however we feel that St Nicolas effectively creates a sense of community in our pupils and a sense of regional and national identity.