The View From My Study – 12th May
Ask most Brits if they could name the Fundamental British Values, the answer is likely to be ‘no’. Or at least there would be a shaky stab at one of them, democracy perhaps. These values were first published in 2014 to guide schools and other areas of society in preparing young people for life in Britain today; they underpin what it is to be a citizen in a modern and diverse Great Britain.
The FBVs are something we encourage all pupils to know. By attending a British School, it is important to understand the things that are important in British culture but, significantly, the FBVs should not be seen as unique to Britain. They’re not. They are promoted in many other countries too. The values are:
- The Rule of Law
- Individual Liberty
- Mutual Respect
- Tolerance of Other Faiths and Beliefs
I am not a big fan of the word ‘tolerance’ in the final value; I prefer to use ‘acceptance’ which is far more inclusive and reflective of our community. I told the pupils this on Monday. Interestingly, it was notable how broad last Saturday’s Coronation service was compared to the past, recognising the different cultures that exist in the UK too.
Bilton Grange is a school that was founded on Christian principles and we are proud of our heritage and wonderful chapel. Our services take a Christian approach but the themes we talk about are common to many religions and are also relevant to people who do not have a particular faith. In other words, we recognise the different backgrounds in our community and we want to be inclusive. We talk about themes such as kindness, respect, honesty, positivity, love and compassion and we refer to texts and material from around the globe.
Biltonians are encouraged to have an opinion and know that others may have a different view. Through committees like the School Council, the children learn to be democratic. They understand the need for rules and structure while simultaneously, we hope, developing their skills to think and act independently. Most of all, we strive for a culture of respect so that we can make the school community as harmonious and as positive as possible.
As an endorsement of this, I was delighted to receive an email yesterday morning, completely unsolicited, from a fellow Head I do not know and who works in a different part of the country. The Head felt the need to report to me some things that her taxi driver had told her when she was in the area this week. The driver waxed lyrical about Bilton Grange pupils saying, “they are such decent children,” and, “any parent would want their children to have such lovely manners.”
This was an email that every Head wants to receive!
Gareth Jones, Headmaster