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A big ‘buzzword’ in the world of education for the past year or so has been British Values due to schools having to ensure they ‘actively promote’ them within their respective settings. This was a shift from previously having to demonstrate ‘due regard’. Whilst I am sure no school was opposed to doing this, as the values of democracy / the rule of law / individual liberty / mutual respect / tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs, were very likely already the bedrock of their establishment, the challenge has been to make these mean something to the youngest children whose experience of the world so far is (quite rightly) limited.

Pre-Prep staff spent time identifying where in the curriculum the British Values were being promoted and were confident that through our PSHEE lessons, Golden Rules, own-learning time, RS lessons, assemblies, team games (to name but a few) we were providing a wealth of opportunities and experiences. However, we all felt it important that the children should know about them more explicitly. We have, therefore, turned each one into a character and are currently introducing one each week in our assemblies.

Today we met Democracy Dog and thought about what it might be like if only one person decided the game to play every playtime. Every child said it would be very sad and unfair and that it is much better when they all have the chance to suggest what they should play. We also acted out a pretend election in which the children had to vote for a leader to make a new rule about school. It was wonderful to witness how the children journeyed through loving the idea of never having to go to school ever again as the best idea to changing their minds upon reflection that nobody would ever learn anything, to deciding it was best to go to school and learn but give up the homework. The children also learned through the fun election that what you vote for might not be the winning idea but that it was still a fair way to decide.

The children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 have now been tasked to decide how we should celebrate World Book Day on Thursday 2 March as part of this term’s Pupil Voice. The children will suggest ideas in their classes and representatives from each class will be chosen to attend my Very Big Important Meeting to share those ideas with the other classes. Those present at the meeting will then vote to choose the winning ideas.

It would seem that by providing experiences relevant to the children’s world we can help them to develop an understanding of what it means to be part of Great Britain and, hopefully, they won’t get too many shocks as they grow up and encounter a progressively wider world.

In the next few weeks I am also looking forward to introducing: Lion Law, Liberty Leopard, Tolerance Turtle and Respectful Rhino who I hope will imprint themselves in the children’s heads and hearts for many years to come.

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