St Thomas More is a good Catholic school with several outstanding features. The rich diversity of faiths and cultural backgrounds are celebrated within the extremely strong Catholic identity permeating the life of the school. (Diocesan Inspection 2014)
In Foundation Stage and KS1 we teach Phonics mainly using the Read Write Inc programme. This provides children with a clear and consistent whole school approach to begin their reading and writing. These are further developed as children move up the school.
Themed Learning based on Primary Matters has been designed to help teachers make all learning inspring, exciting, active and meaningful for all children. Learning is divided into 3 core themes a year which are based around the interests of our children. These themes last for the whole term and allow the children to study all other subjects in depth whilst applying their Literacy and Numeracy skills.
We follow guidance from CES and the DfE on how to teach British Values in our school.
British Values and Our Catholic Ethos
The government set out its definition of ‘British values’ in the ‘Prevent Strategy’, which was designed to prevent the extremism and religious radicalization 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.
“We are proud that Catholic schools promote values that are both Catholic and British, including: respect for the individual, democracy, individual liberty, respect, tolerance and inclusiveness. Our schools promote cohesion by serving more ethnically diverse and poorer communities. Catholic schools provide high standards of education which are popular with parents from all social, economic and faith backgrounds.” Paul Barber (Catholic Education Service 15 December 2014).
At St Thomas More we recognise, not only the importance of helping pupils to flourish 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 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 and his welcome and inclusion of all, which is developed in Catholic Social Teaching.
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 every day, as well as when dealing with behaviour and through assemblies. The curriculum is designed to ensure 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 St Thomas More pupils are actively encouraged to make independent choices knowing that they are in a safe, secure and supportive environment. As a school 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 building community. Pupils 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 and school House meetings.
Mutual Respect The school promotes respect for others and this is reiterated through our classroom and learning environments as well as extra-curricular activities such as sport. In line with our commitment to democracy, pupils are always able to voice their opinions as we foster an environment where pupils 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. The school takes a very strong stance on social inclusion and anti-bullying through an explicit focus on strategies to enable respect for difference.
‘Pupils say, “In this school we have lots of different religions but we are taught to respect things that are different and celebrate things that are the same”. Pupils thrive in this nurturing, cohesive community ensuring that relationships and the behaviour of pupils within the school are very good.’
(Diocesan Inspection 2014)
Tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs This is achieved through equipping pupils with the ability to develop positive values, 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. All pupils experience a connection with other cultures and beliefs through our RE programme, feast days and local, regional and international 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.