At St Mary’s Church of England Academy, we feel a deep responsibility to nurture and develop core values that can guide our lives and be shared and expressed by everyone – regardless of faith or belief. These guide our school community, helping to form character, spiritual awareness and self-esteem and are firmly based in the commandment of Jesus to ‘love your neighbour,’ and to treat others as we would expect to be treated.
As a school community we seek to promote reflection about children’s own beliefs and faith and to encourage their own interest in and respect of other religions and faiths. As a Church of England school, we aim to anchor these values in the Christian faith through our collective worship and whole school ethos.
We believe the schools’ core values encourage children to recognise the difference between right and wrong and how their own actions affect others. As this understanding develops children learn how to co-operate and empathise with others of differing backgrounds.
Over the course of two years, we explore 6 core values: their meaning and their significance in Christianity, other religions and secular teachings. We spend a half term focusing on each core value in turn.
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 democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs.”
We promote and reinforce these values regularly in the following ways:
Democracy is embedded at the school. Pupils are always listened to by adults and are taught to listen carefully and respect the right of every individual to have their opinions and voices heard. Pupils have the opportunity to have their voices heard through our School Council. Children put themselves forward through a short presentation and the election of the School Council members is based on pupil votes, thereby demonstrating democracy in action. They also have a chance to explore other leadership roles and take responsibility for change these are: Collective Worship Leaders, Eco Council, School bankers, Colour House Captains and Deputy/Head Boy and Girl.
Rule of Law
The importance of laws whether they are those that govern the class, the school or the country, are consistently reinforced. Each class discusses and sets its own rules that are clearly understood by all and seen to be necessary to ensure that every class member is able to learn in a safe and ordered environment. Our Christian values enable children to find examples of why we follow a code of conduct and to recognise and appreciate when others demonstrate positive behaviour, this is particularly evident when we focus on justice as a core value. We teach the value and reason behind laws, that they govern and protect us, the responsibilities that this involves and the consequences when laws are broken. Visits from authorities such as the Police and Fire Service help reinforce this message.
Within school, pupils are actively encouraged to make choices, knowing that they are in a safe and supportive environment. As a school we educate and provide boundaries for young pupils to make choices safely, through the provision of a safe environment and empowering education. Pupils are encouraged to know, understand and exercise their rights and personal freedoms and are advised how to exercise these safely, for example through our E-Safety, PSHE and philosophy lessons. Whether it be through choice of challenge, of how they record, of participation in our numerous extra-curricular clubs and opportunities, pupils are given the freedom to make choices.
Part of our school ethos and behaviour policy are based around Core Christian values such as “respect” and these values determine how we live as a community at St Mary’s. Worship is based on our Christian values and they are central to how we expect everyone to go about their life at our school. Values are highly visible around the school and can be seen in every class, especially the golden rule to treat others as you would want to be treated. Our pupils live by the values and are keen to identify them in one another. They understand what they mean and can demonstrate these fully. The pupils know and understand what is expected and that it is imperative that respect is shown to everyone, whatever differences we may have and to everything, however big or small. Respect becomes a whole school focus this summer when it leads as a core value.
Tolerance of those of Different Faiths and Beliefs:
This is achieved through enhancing pupils understanding of their place in a culturally diverse society and by giving them opportunities to experience such diversity. As we are not a culturally diverse school, we work hard to ensure our children have the opportunities to study other cultures and meet people of other faiths through our broad and balanced curriculum. Our Worship helps all pupils to find out about themselves and others linking their lives to the communities in which they belong. The school is currently developing an international link with Kagera in Tanzania through the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich.
British Values and the Religious Education Curriculum
Our religious education curriculum gives our children the opportunity to learn about and learn from religion and belief around the world, including all the major world religions. As a Church of England school, our RE syllabus is weighted towards Christianity, but includes comparisons across religions in each unit of enquiry. We also teach Christianity in a global context. The four key attitudes of the Suffolk RE syllabus are: respect for all, open mindedness, appreciation and wonder and self awareness. These key attitudes are on display in every classroom, modelled by staff and demonstrated by children through our commitment to high quality outstanding RE teaching and the depth of our curriculum. The school has a SACRE member on staff, and accesses resources, visitors and support through a growing link with SIFRE (the Suffolk Inter-faith resource).