Background and Aims
What it means to be British has never been universally agreed upon and probably never should be. In a diverse, multicultural setting such as North Harringay Primary School, a community composed of families originating from every corner of the globe, we want to encourage our learners, all of whom are growing up British, to better understand the society they live in and their place within it.
In 2014, the Coalition Government issued guidance on what it called “fundamental British values”, defined as ‘democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs’ as well as an understanding of British history heritage and traditions. At North Harringay Primary School we believe that all these ideas are important and valuable, not just in Britain but for many people all around the world. This document outlines the various ways in which we maintain and uphold them.
North Harringay’s Personal Development Curriculum emphasises the importance of learners gaining an understanding of how decisions are made at a local and national, including the work of Parliament and councils and the manner in which their members are elected. It emphasises the asking and answering of open questions and throughout our curriculum we encourage rigorous debate and discussion of important issues.
In place of a School Council we now have a School Parliament, elected by the young people in the school and entrusted with real decision-making powers. This ensures young people can see the connection between the vote they cast and the way in which it shapes their environment.
All the young people in the school are familiar with, and set themselves targets on the basis of, the 5Cs: five dispositions (committed, critical, creative, cooperative and curious) which set out what we believe makes a successful North Harringay learner. Within our definition of what it means to be critical, we include the virtues of scepticism and open-mindedness, encouraging learners to question everything and everyone, including their own beliefs and assumptions.
The Rule of Law
North Harringay Primary School has a clear and consistent behaviour policy based on a set of “golden rules.” The “going for gold” system in classes and three-stage system for escalation of more serious incidents reinforce these rules and teachers are encouraged to agree on an interpretation of the golden rules with their class at the start of the year. In this way young people are encouraged to take ownership of the rules and, by extension, their own behaviour.
The “World Around Us” strand of the school’s Personal Development Curriculum emphasises the systems and structures that keep society functioning effectively, including an understanding of individual rights and responsibilities, our duties before the law and how laws are made. Legal issues surrounding substance abuse including illegal drugs as well as knife crime and sexual relationships are discussed in Year 6 to prepare learners for the more sophisticated and potentially more intimidating environment they will face at secondary school.
North Harringay’s 5Cs emphasise independence, individual expression and creativity and across the school curriculum learners are encouraged to take the lead in their learning, to make choices about it and to make judgements about the appropriate level of challenge they require in different lessons.
Our behaviour policy promotes a culture in which learners take ownership of their own behaviour and choices, suggesting their own compromises and resolutions to potential conflicts. Learners choose their own targets from the requirements of the “5Cs” and assess their own progress against them. They are encouraged to see themselves as the agent in their own learning; as active learners whose own choices, more than anything else, determine outcomes.
Each week, we pose a “Question of the Week” which is introduced in Monday morning’s assembly to Years 1-6. Often this question is suggested or inspired by the children themselves and creative, individual responses are encouraged. Sometimes there are rewards for the most innovative answer, such as when the children who offered the most thorough response to the question: “If you were head teacher for the day, what would you do?” were actually invited to do just that, even occupying the head teacher’s office for an entire school day!
The criteria set out in the “Five Cs” for demonstrating oneself to be a “cooperative” learner are compassion, empathy and communication which are the foundations of promoting mutual respect. Many tasks within lessons are tackled by pairs of “learning buddies” which change regularly so that all our learners become comfortable working with all their peers, whatever their differences in background and prior achievement.
At the end of each week, two “Learner of the Week” awards are presented in each class, one of which is chosen by the class teacher and one of which is voted for by the class. In this way children are encouraged to notice and praise one another’s strengths and achievements.
Our Personal Development curriculum encourages purposeful “circle times” or similar opportunities for class discussions whereby children are encouraged to listen to one another and acknowledge their differences in a spirit of acceptance and respect. Every year we mark Anti-bullying Week with a range of events to raise awareness and encourage positive relationships between all children in the school. This is underpinned by a clear and consistently-enforced anti-bullying policy.
Tolerance for Different Faiths and Beliefs
North Harringay is an extremely diverse school and the families that form our communities represent many different religions, cultures and belief systems. We are committed to celebrating those differences through our curriculum, through visits and visitors to the school and through international cultural events.
We follow the Haringey SACRE’s agreed syllabus for RE which encourages understanding of the different major faiths and religions around the world. The RE and PSHE curriculum both promote a thorough exploration of how both religious and non-religious people approach questions of meaning, ethics and philosophy. Children at North Harringay visit a range of places of worship throughout their time at the school in order to gain first-hand experience of other religious beliefs and speakers from different religious communities are regularly invited to speak in assemblies.
British History, Heritage and Traditions
At North Harringay we celebrate and teach children about the full calendar of traditional British events including Harvest, Bonfire Night, Christmas and Easter, May Day and important anniversaries, such as the production our Year 5 and 6 children performed to commemorate the 1914 Christmas Truce. We also encourage children to learn about and explore traditional British legends and folk stories such as Beowulf, King Arthur and Robin Hood.
Our history curriculum promotes critical thinking and genuine enquiry about the events of the past based on original sources, artefacts and published information. This includes encouraging children to develop an understanding of what might be called the “mainstream narrative” of British history and the positive contribution made to the world by notable figures such as Florence Nightingale, Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Charles Darwin. However, we also make no attempt to conceal the less savoury and more blood-soaked aspects of our history such as colonialism and slavery for we believe that learning from mistakes is as important for a society as it is for an individual. Each year we mark Black History Month to ensure that the heritage and history of everyone in contemporary Britain is represented in our account of the past.
Our goal is not to promote “Britishness” as superior in its values or its outlook to other nations or cultures. Rather it is to encourage the young people in our school to believe that, by taking pride in the contribution they make to modern British life in all its colour, vibrancy and diversity, they become better citizens not just of this island nation, but of the planet they must share with more than seven billion other people.