A school’s ethos is concerned with shared values and standards, which are consistently understood and applied by children, staff, governors and parents. It cannot be measured in quantitative terms, but creates the atmosphere which is perceived instantly by those who are part of the day-to-day environment, regular or occasional visitors.
We believe that all schools, regardless of the impact of external influences, have a degree of choice about how they are organised, how they respond to children and that the way such responses are made affects the pupils’ opportunity to improve their achievement and behaviour. This is the responsibility of parents, governors, staff and the pupils themselves. There are several strategies and beliefs which underpin the establishing and acceptance of a school’s climate. We place a strong emphasis on this through our values based education and ‘Learning Friends’.
Values education is not a standalone subject within the curriculum; it is an approach to quality teaching and learning, it aims to raise achievement and encourage children to be self-disciplined as active learners. It underpins all that goes on in school, from our organisation to the development of good relationships, skills for life and promoting positive attitudes and behaviours.
Spencer, our school mascot, is used as a teaching aid to encourage children to adhere to our values, ethos and positive behaviour policy. He is there as a daily reminder to the children of our high expectations and standards. Spencer promotes our core value which is co-operation throughout the whole year.
Our ‘Learning Friends’ (bears) are linked to these values, as well as different learning styles/skills. These characters are introduced to the children during whole school assemblies, as each value is introduced and are on permanent display in school.
As a Co-operative Trust School we have already adopted the values of the Co-op, which echo British values.
We have a developmental approach that enables children to develop their understanding of these values throughout their time at our school; from Pre-school through to Year 2.
Rule of Law
· Each Thursday during Celebration Assembly we agree Spencer’s (our school mascot) rule for the following week. Two children are chosen from each class to be congratulated for demonstrating this.
· At the beginning of each academic year each class discuss a set of rules with their peers and the teacher and from these create a class agreement. These are then displayed in the class and referred to as necessary.
· By signing the Home School Agreement all parents/carers, children and teachers show commitment to uphold the school rules.
· We follow a programme called Kaleidoscope which helps children to understand their feelings and how to make decisions and choices that are acceptable to the school, community and society at large.
· Pupils are helped to learn to manage their behaviour and take responsibility for their actions. We help children to understand the connection between actions and consequences.
Democracy is a co-operative value and is taught during Monday and Tuesday assemblies throughout the year. During their time at St James there will be occasions where children will have the opportunity to “vote”. It is explained to them that this means not everyone will get their choice. In Year 2 the children study “Where we live”. As part of this they explore the concept of democracy and they elect a Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Town Clerk. Each child writes their manifesto based on what they would do to improve the school and the children then vote. We also have a School Council with members elected from each class.
We support each pupil to become as independent as possible so that they are encouraged to become good and valued citizens. We endeavour to demonstrate that everyone has rights; this includes the right to say ‘No’ when appropriate. Through Kaleidoscope children are encouraged to express feelings and opinions freely without fear of being judged. Some pupils will be able to take responsibility for particular roles, such as Monitors, Special child of the week, Playground Pals, Eco warriors. Learning to do things independently is an important part of learning to understand yourself. We believe that in fostering a careful and helpful environment and encouraging independence we can boost and nurture a healthy self-esteem.
We promote each pupil’s inclusion, where possible, in a range of activities, settings and locations. Events and circumstances are planned for pupils to go into the community to meet with a variety of people in different situations which include: sports events, community events and shared participation with other schools.
We support others by visiting elderly members of the community to deliver Harvest parcels and sing Christmas carols, as well as participating in national charitable events such as Children in Need, Sign to Sing and fund raising for Local Charities.
Tolerance of those of Different Faiths and Beliefs:
Through our Co-operative value of Equality, all children are taught to respect everyone regardless of their faith and beliefs. We are linked to a school in Iganga, who we regularly contact through Skype, share books and resources and correspond with. Children regularly listen to music from different cultures. Putamayo CDs are played in assembly. Children in year 2 are given the opportunity to attend Culture Club.
In the curriculum through Religious Education, English (fiction) and Art children consider cultures from other parts of the world, different faiths and beliefs.