The Department for Education outlined in the 2014 Prevent strategy a requirement for schools to teach and promote fundamental British Values. The five key British Values are:
- The rule of law
- Individual liberty
- Mutual respect
- Tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs
At West Hill School we believe that promoting these fundamental British Values is a way that we can celebrate the individual rights and freedoms of which we are all afforded, that we can embrace the rich and diverse cultures and beliefs of all members of our society, and that it creates the scope for us to reflect upon and value what it means to be part of an ordered, lawful and democratic society.
You can see the promotion of British Values embedded into the ethos and values of West Hill but below are a few key examples:
Boys are taught about fundamental British Values directly in their IDP lessons:
- In Year 8 boys learn about what British Values are, that being British is not just about embracing ‘tea’ and ‘fish and chips’; it is about celebrating our rights and freedoms and that we are free to make choices and have our say within the boundaries of the law. They learn that we should listen to and value the views and beliefs of others, and that we should understand the consequences of our actions and value the rule of law. They learn about what the law is, how the justice system works, and they consider case studies about the youth justice system. In this year boys also look at rights and responsibilities; what rights and responsibilities they have as human beings, children and as citizens within Britain, Stalybridge and our school community.
- In Year 9 boys looks in some depth at democracy. They learn about what democracy is and the structure, purpose and function of our government including local government. They have the opportunity to think about how they can be an active and contributing member of our democratic society and reflect upon these ideas when they build their own political party and construct laws and rules for their own island. In this year boys also think about people who do not have the same rights and freedoms as we do and consider how we can support them through charity, fundraising and voluntary groups.
- In Year 10 boys have the opportunity to think more deeply and critically about the fundamental British Values through healthy, honest and respectful debate. For example, in Year 10, boys consider the notion that a democracy is a system of government that is not without its drawbacks, but it is the best and fairest system of government that we have.
- To complement what the boys will learn about British Values in their IDP lessons they have a variety of assemblies on a rolling assembly programme that focus on British Values. In recent years these themes have included: ‘Pupil Voice: The School Council’, ‘What are British Values?’, ‘Democracy’, ‘Rule of Law’, ‘Individual Liberty’ and ‘Mutual Respect’. All of these assemblies have prepared and led by the pupils themselves.
In Religious Education lessons boys learn specifically about mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs and for those without faith:
- In Year 7 boys consider why it is important to learn about religion in their first unit ‘What is Religion?’ and look specifically at prejudice and discrimination in the ‘Prejudice & Discrimination’ unit, and in Year 9 boys look at justice, tolerance and harmony in the ‘Justice and Conflict’ unit. Also in Year 9 boys spend some time learning about the Holocaust and why it is important that we remember.
British Values are promoted across the curriculum:
- In Food Technology boys learn about how we should be respectful of religious dietary requirements and religious rules about food. They also learn about why we have certain laws around food and hygiene and about the consequences of not following these laws.
- The rule of law is also reinforced in ICT when boys learn about laws surrounding computer misuse, copyright and health and safety. Again, boys here consider why we have these laws in place and what the consequences of not following these are.
- In Year 8 in Science boys begin to learn about scientific arguments for the origins of the universe. Here they are taught to be respectful of those who have different beliefs to the scientific responses.
- When boys look at Dystopia in Year 9 in English they study Orwell’s Animal Farm. In these lessons boys will consider the nature and benefits of a democracy and contrast this with a dictatorship as an alternative form of government.
- In English, Individual Liberty is promoted when boys begin the KS3 unit on Freedom; here they look at biographies and speeches about Civil Rights and what it means to be free.
These examples are by no means exhaustive and many more examples can be seen across each department.
Visits from authorities reinforce the importance of the rule of law:
- Each year boys have an assembly from the Fire Service and we have close links with the community police team and the local health authority.
The prefect application process and the esteem held for our prefects and Senior Team:
- The rigorous application process that our boys go through to apply to be a Prefect highlight the value that our boys place on the rule of law and highlights how they accept responsibility for their behaviour, show initiative and understand how they can contribute positively to the school community. The Senior Team are elected following hustings at the end of the academic year.
Boys develop an understanding of how they can influence decision-making through the democratic process via the School Council, outsider speakers and through the Senior Team hustings and elections.
- West Hill has an active School Council. Elections are held each October. The School Council consists of two Year Councillors from each year group and two Form Councillors from each form group. School Council meetings are held once every half term and are led by the Chair of the School Council. Minutes are compiled by the boys themselves and are then distributed by the Form Councillors.
- See the Student Voice section for further details on the school council.
Recently the school also applied to the Peers in Schools programme to further develop the boys knowledge of the workings of democracy. We were lucky to have had a visit from Lord Goddard of Stockport in July 2019 who delivered an engaging lecture and Q&A session to a number of Year 9 students.
- A number of boys from the school council represent West Hill boys on the Tameside Youth Council.
- The school participates in the Make Your Mark campaign where all students in the school vote on the issues that they would like the Youth Council and Youth Parliament to actively campaign on.
- At West Hill we use opportunities such as general or local elections to hold mock elections:
Using opportunities like general or local elections to promote fundamental British values provides pupils with an active understanding of democracy and gives them an opportunity to learn how to argue and defend points of view. We held a West Hill referendum on Britain’s exit from the EU. Campaigns were led entirely by the boys on the GRIT team with a leave and remain campaign. Boys campaigned tirelessly but in the end the remain camp won the referendum with 57.3% of the vote. There will also be a mock election on this year’s general election.
The government defines extremism as “vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values”. All boys are taught about extremism as part of their IDP lessons. In these sessions boys we try to empower the boys to feel confident in tackling extremism in whatever form that it may take. We look at a number of different scenarios and consider how we should identify extremist behaviour, how an individual could and should respond to it, and how boys can find further support and information. Healthy and respectful debate is encouraged so that any misconceptions can be challenged.
All staff have taken part in ‘Channel’ training and the school has good links with Greater Manchester Prevent Team.
Last year a group of year 9 boys were involved in watching ‘One Extreme to Another’, a play on far right extremism that supports the learning on this topic.