British Values at The Catholic High School, Chester
Before the Department for Education published guidance on promoting British values in schools, Catholic schools had always actively promoted a clear set of values based on the Gospel. While there is certainly no contradiction between ‘British values’ and Gospel values’, we believe that Gospel values serve to ensure young people leave school prepared for life in modern Britain.
Through the curriculum based RE provision, through a full range of lessons in other subjects including History, Geography and science, through RE days and retreats, through tutor time and assemblies, and through whole school liturgies and other events we promote the spiritual and moral growth of our students as they learn to treat themselves and other people in the way that Jesus would want. Specifically students learn from the example of The Good Samaritan that we should ‘love our neighbour as ourselves’ and from the Gospel of St Matthew that ‘what you do for the least of my brothers, you do to me’. In this Year of Mercy students have learnt from works of mercy that our Gospel values lead us to ‘feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, visit the imprisoned and bury the dead’.
Looking specifically at the fundamental British values, at The Catholic High School, Chester we promote these in the following way:
Each student is able to choose a member of the ‘Student Voice’ this is a group that represents students from Year 7 to 13. They meet on a regular basis to discuss a number of school issues. The Head Boy and Head Girl are also elected through a democratic process. In RE GCSE students learn how citizens can influence decision-making through the democratic process. They assess the advantages of a democracy in comparison to a dictatorship. Through study of the Holocaust in their History lessons students learn of the worst consequences of ignoring the rights of minorities.
The Rule of Law
Students are taught about the importance of rules, to protect and help them, and the difficulties that arise when rules are not followed. Students have rules of work as well as rules on behaviour. In Year 11 Religious Education students learn “Rights and Responsibilities” this topic examines that with rights comes responsibilities. The students also study “Crime and Punishment” that looks at the importance of respecting the Law.
At The Catholic High School, Chester students are encouraged to make their own decisions and contribute willingly in class discussion. Students are taught the importance of thinking about others and treating others how they would like to be treated. Students learn how fortunate they are to have rights. In Religious Education lessons in Year 9 the students study how they make moral decisions and look at the consequences of decision making. In Year 11 RE GCSE students learn about Human Rights, they develop this topic in Year 13.
Tolerance of those of Different Faiths and Beliefs:
We recognise the importance of Religious Education to develop pupil’s sense of value and identity allowing each child a sense of belonging within society. Pupils are encouraged to develop a sense of value of other people and a respect for moral and legal obligations, fairness and justice. In Year 7 our young people study Judaism, Year 8 students learn about different Christian denominations, Year 9 there is an in-depth study of Islam, Year 11 students look again at the beliefs and values of Judaism. World Religions are also examined in General RE in the sixth form. In addition festivals of light (Judaism, Christianity and Hinduism) are studied. In Year 10 students explore Religion and Community Cohesion as part of their GCSE course. Year 9 students this year visited a mosque, Hindu temple and synagogue.
We provide pupils with learning opportunities through which they can be taught the knowledge, skills and understanding to take responsibility for themselves, show respect for others and to develop the self-awareness and confidence needed for life. Our school ethos and behaviour policy underpins how we expect each pupil to respect the feelings of others. The RE Days in Year 7,8 and 9 also encourage mutual respect by students exploring topics such as “I am special in God’s eyes” and “Do not label me”. Each year the school holds a one day ‘special’ day that has focussed on Respect (2013), or ‘Love your neighbour and yourself’ (2015).