British Values and Our Catholic Ethos

The government set out its definition of ‘British values’ in the ‘Prevent Duty’ (2015), which was designed to prevent the extremism and religious radicalisation of young people.

British values are considered by the present government to be democracy, rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs. The promotion of ‘British values’ is central to Catholic education because British values have their origin in the Christian values of our nation.

At Oakwood we recognise the importance of helping students to flourish not only academically but also spiritually, morally, socially and culturally, so they are fully prepared for life in British society and for their role as citizens, able to make the strongest possible contribution to society and to the common good of all. We teach the importance of British Values by going much deeper into the meaning of what it means to live a good life, within a framework of Catholic Christian Values. This provides the context and meaning for understanding why British values are important. Our framework for understanding British values draws on the example of Jesus’s life and teaching, his respect for and inclusion of all individuals.

Oakwood provides an education which focuses on the formation of the whole person and on our vocation and purpose in life. We are guided by our school motto In Gaudio Serviamus – may we serve joyfully, and by the Christian values of respect, compassion, co-operation and stewardship as we reflect on our place and purpose in the world. We place a significant emphasis on our calling to work in the service of others, celebrating individuality and difference within our communities. Our Catholic ethos, which includes explicit reference to Christian and British values, makes a tangible difference to the way we work together and in our wider communities. Within this framework it would be impossible to overlook the government’s view of British values expressed as ‘democracy, rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs.’ The examples that follow are an indication of some of the many ways we seek to embed British values at Oakwood School.

The Rule of Law

The importance of laws, whether they be those that govern the class, the school, or the country, are consistently reinforced throughout each day, as well as when dealing with behaviour and through assemblies. The curriculum is designed to ensure that pupils are taught the values and reasons 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 are regular parts of our learning programmes and help reinforce this message.

Individual Liberty

At Oakwood pupils are actively encouraged to make independent choices knowing that they are in a safe, secure and supportive environment. We educate and provide boundaries for pupils to make choices safely, through the provision of a safe environment and an empowering education. We encourage pupils to see themselves as unique individuals able to make a unique contribution to service in the wider community. Students are encouraged to know, understand and exercise their rights, responsibilities and personal freedoms and receive advice about how to exercise these safely, for example through our exploration of E-Safety in computing and in their tutorial discussions.

Mutual Respect

Respect for others is a key value at Oakwood and is modelled by students and staff alike. The school promotes respect for others through our classroom and learning environments as well as through extra-curricular activities such as sport. In line with our commitment to democracy, pupils are able to voice their opinions as we foster an environment where students can debate ideas and are safe to disagree with each other. We encourage pupils to substantiate opinions and to realise the value of co-operation and consensus as well as decision- making through voting. Our unique Character Development programme develops virtues such as mutual respect, kindness, courtesy, friendliness and responsibility throughout the curriculum and across the school.

Tolerance of Those of Different Faiths and Beliefs

At Oakwood this is achieved through equipping pupils with the ability to develop positive values, and to understand their own beliefs and their place in a culturally diverse society. We give our pupils opportunities to experience such diversity within the school community and within the wider community. Pupils experience a connection with other cultures and beliefs through our Religious Education curriculum, assemblies, theme days and local links. The emphasis on enterprise, working with others, and learning other languages directly contributes to the appreciation of others’ perspectives on life. Our RE curriculum follows the teaching of the Church in providing a broad and balanced education, which includes an understanding of and respect for people of other faiths or none and other religions, cultures and lifestyles.