Promoting British Values

Promoting British Values in The Downs School

The philosophy of the school is ‘Learning together, learning for life,’ which encapsulates our belief that being part of a vibrant and active community enriches the learning experiences of our students. We understand the importance of the school’s role in actively promoting a strong sense of community amongst our students, who are aware of the multicultural, multi-faith and changing nature of the United Kingdom. This is represented in the unique values we espouse as a school community: courage, responsibility, equality, ambition, resilience, creativity and integrity (CREARCI).

The values enshrined in the Equalities Act of 2010 are at the heart of our school. We believe that it is wrong to discriminate against anyone on the basis of ethnicity, religion, gender, sexuality, disability, political beliefs, financial status or any other protected characteristic, and actively promote these values within the school community. We recognise the vital role played by schools in safeguarding young people from discrimination and radicalisation and ensure that this role is supported by extremely robust safeguarding procedures.

The five British values, set out in the Government’s 2011 Prevent Strategy, are the foundation of an effective community. The values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance for other faiths and traditions are celebrated within the school community, both through our curriculum, reflecting the National Curriculum, and through a wealth of extra-curricular events and activities. The school focuses on a different British value each term, with the students debating the importance of the value with their tutors.

The Downs School strives endlessly to ensure that its students leave with the strongest foundation of values upon which to build a successful life and a successful contribution to our society.

Below are some examples of how the British values are celebrated within the school:


The principle of democracy is consistently being reinforced at The Downs School, with democratic processes being used for important decisions within the school community.  For instance, elections being part of the process for selecting Head Boy and Head Girl positions and Student Council representatives.  Students have a voice that is listened to through various focus groups.

The principles of democracy and justice are explored in RE, History, Philosophy, Sociology and Politics, with students studying examples of individuals who have campaigned for democratic and civil rights and the history of how Britain became the democracy it is today.

In English, students have the opportunity to discuss topical issues through the spoken language endorsement and also freedom of speech when discussing rhetoric and language in each year of our seven year curriculum. The English curriculum focuses on how democracy can be abused or ignored through the study of ‘Lord of the Flies’ and ‘An Inspector Calls’ in KS4. Study of Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’ and ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ focuses students on issues related to lack of democracy within society. Various anthology poems also focus on issues related to power, conflict and issues within democratic and autocratic societies. 

In Media Studies we study how newspapers convey left and right wing political ideologies in both the Broadsheet and Tabloid press.

In KS5 languages, past and present political systems of French, German and Spanish speaking countries are studied and discussed.

In KS4 and KS5 Geography, students study the impact of dictatorships and corrupt governments on economic development, while in PE/Sport, democracy is delivered through allowing students to take a role in the delivery of some lesson elements as young leaders. Decision-making is a key aspect in sport and students are encouraged to think for themselves deciding on a response, often in conjunction with others. Students are ‘allowed’ to make mistakes and tolerance for their own and one other’s decisions is encouraged.

Democratic management is explored within the KS5 Business Studies curriculum, particularly focusing upon leadership styles and the value of democratic vs autocratic approaches to leadership. This develops the students’ understanding of the importance of consultation to find out opinions of employees before reaching a decision.

In Mathematics, students are taught the value of democracy through open discussion about which solution seems to be the right one, as well as focusing on the mathematics of voting systems in the topics of sampling and percentages. For example, how representative is a sample?

In Computing we consider how both platforms themselves and governments can choose to censor that voice and at KS5 we consider the impact this can have on the democratic process within the country. We also consider blocking of domains and sites as a way to a democratic freedom of expression.

In the KS3 Personal Development curriculum, students study aspects of local democracy and how the UK is governed. Moving forward into our KS4 curriculum, students discuss political participation and digital democracy. During our PDP Day in June, students of both KS3+4 can explore ideas surrounding Active Citizenship and how to play a more prominent role in democracy.

In KS4, the focus is on political literacy, with students developing a more complex understanding of British democracy in practice. The whole school takes part in mock elections to reflect the general elections and referendums taking place nationally.

The rule of law

Students are taught the rules and expectations of the school which are highlighted by the student code of conduct and student expectations.  The Personal Development curriculum specifically allows our students to study UK law and how the law is changed. More broadly, the curriculum also provides an understanding of the law in a variety of different contexts such as drugs, sex, and discrimination. This supplements a programme of tutor activities and assemblies for students of all ages, in which their rights and responsibilities as members of the school community are explored. 

In History, students have the opportunity to contrast the situation in Britain today where the rule of law is upheld with other times and places where this has not been the case.

In PE/Sport, the rule of law is delivered through teaching of rules/laws as they apply to different activities. In their Art lessons, students explore British values within the unit ‘This is me’. They explore Banksy and Blek Le Rat’s political and controversial work. This is further supported through the exploration of Barbara Kruger’s work. KS4 & 5 Design and Technology covers how the intellectual rights and branding of companies are protected. It looks at the mechanisms in place to ensure that any organisation that has protected its property rights has a legal protection from other organisations who may want to use their designs and images without permission. Patents, copy rights and registered design are some of the protections covered.

Within the KS4 Business Studies curriculum students are taught about a number of laws which the government has created to safeguard employees in the workplace. Focus is specifically placed upon the minimum wage, the EU Working Time Directive, as well as legislation surrounding race, sex, age or disability discrimination. At KS5 students explore competition law, including the Fair Trade Act / Competitions Act, Enterprise Act and the role of the financial Conduct Authority. They also cover Labour Market Legislation, including the Equality Act and the role of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, as well as Environmental Legislation. Students also consider the impact that changes in the UK and EU legal environment have on UK businesses and their decision making.

In Mathematics, students focus on understanding the need to follow universal mathematical rules and conventions, for example the order of operations.

In English, students study a number of texts that focus on the consequences of transgressing the law, both for the individual and for society as a whole. In Media Studies we study regulation and the certification of media texts such as film and videogames. Students learn about the legislation involved in pre-production for example, how to create a risk assessment, get liability insurance. Through the study of contexts (historical, political, socio economic we look at how legislation affected the way minority groups are treated in society- for example Section 28. In film studies, students develop their understanding of human rights through the study of police corruption and the Indian Caste system.

In Politics, students understand the law-making processes and how and when laws can be changed over time.  They also consider the extent to which political participation remains within the legal framework of the UK and the USA.   In Economics (KS4 and 5), students explore the economic reasons for the implementation of certain laws that protect individuals and society from negative consequences. Students who take Law for A Level develop a deep understanding of the English legal system and the principles upon which it is based.

In Science, Health and Social Care students study legislation with regards to equality, diversity, GDPR and updated acts. Students in KS3 and 4 study chemical analysis and the impact that scientific evidence has on the law and government acts and policies. In KS5 Psychology, students study social influences and the process which lead to obedience and conformity within societies.

In Computer Science students focus on the four specific laws and the wider ethics of digital media. Primarily, they look at Data Protection, through the GDPR and how ask students to consider if the data they use online is going to be used in a safe and secure way. Issues around Copyright, and what is fair use are also considered, so students understand the consequences to others of illegal downloading/pirating software. At KS4 and KS5 students also consider how the government use laws to prevent misuse of electronic devices, such as issues around hacking or spreading viruses with the Computer Misuse Act and what actions can be taken to track online activity using RIPA. 

Individual liberty

At The Downs, students are actively encouraged to make independent choices, in the knowledge that they are in a safe, secure and supportive environment. The personal development curriculum focusses on children’s rights, financial independence, and career choices. The Downs has a robust anti-bullying culture and has been awarded the West Berkshire Council ‘Safe in Our Hands’ Anti-Bullying Award.  A comprehensive Positive Behaviour Policy is also in place. 

The importance of equality and individual liberty is also explored through topics in History, such as the Civil Rights Movement and the campaign for women’s suffrage, whilst the topical issues surrounding the rights of movement throughout the EU is covered in KS4 Geography.

In PE/Sport, individual liberty is inculcated by students being encouraged to make decisions in competitive and sporting contexts. In their Art lessons, students produce an extended homework project entitled ‘freedom,’ exploring political, historical influences and producing their own interpretation of the theme.

The concept of individual liberty is explored extensively in the Performing Arts curriculum. In Music, civil liberties are discussed as a context for Blues and Jazz music in KS3 and K34, when recounting the history of the African slaves and their musical influences on the genre. Freedom of expression is a regular feature in KS3 music listening work, as students distinguish between opinion and fact when discussing different music and are encouraged to support their differing opinions with factual references. Drama and Dance lessons create an environment where students have the right and feel safe to voice their opinions and have their views heard and respected by others. There are numerous occasions in schemes of work where students are encouraged to debate controversial subject areas that cover history, politics and ethics. Additionally, students are given the opportunity to explore and experience drama and dance from a range of cultures and traditions which develops their understanding and tolerance. Civil Liberties are discussed and accessed through the influence of the Game of Soldiers’ scheme of work which explores the Falkland’s war. In Dance, students challenge the perception of stereo typical positions in society by exploring the social issue of Conflict. 

In Politics, liberty is discussed in the context of freedom to participate in politics in different nations and the importance of liberty in different ideological views. In Economics, liberty is discussed for individuals and their freedom to make consumption decisions that may impact negatively on others in society.

In Mathematics, the way the subject is taught encourages students to exercise their freedom in exploring how to achieve specific lesson outcomes. This is a particular focus in KS3 with different models and representations of mathematical concepts that are introduced and explored.

In Computing at all key stages, we look at the ability to have access to the internet/digital platforms and for individuals to air their voice. We consider how both platforms themselves and governments can choose to censor that voice and at KS5 we consider the impact this can have on individual liberty.

In English, KS3 students develop their voices through producing persuasive speeches, and debating philosophical questions about liberty; in addition, many KS4 texts explicitly focus on an individual’s freedom of choice and the consequences these choices may bring and this is also explored in the Spoken Language Endorsement. At KS4, we also look at speeches and texts related to individual liberty. Year 9 students read a variety of texts which explore ideas about law and individual freedom, such as In the Sea There are Crocodiles, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Of Mice and Men.

In Media Studies, individual liberty is discussed through the representation of groups, individuals and places through the set texts. We look at how contexts, for example historical context and Feminism effects ideologies and viewpoints.

In French, German and Spanish A level, we look at periods in history where individual liberty was not granted to all, for example under the Franco regime in Spain or East Germany.

In Science, Health and Social Care students study how individuals are empowered through enabling service users to live life as they want to. In KS5 Psychology, students grapple with the debate over free will and determination and the extent to which any of us is able to express liberty.  In KS3 and 4 students in Science study topics such as cloning, IVF, stem cells and gene technology, and evaluate the limitations that culture and society place on scientific developments. They also gain an understanding of the protocol of the right to life debate.

In A-level Philosophy, students examine whether certain ethical theories threaten individual liberty, alongside various philosophers who have stressed the importance of freedom and autonomy.

Mutual respect

Mutual respect is encouraged and nurtured throughout The Downs School, both through study in the classroom and through the application of school expectations.  

A key element of the RE syllabus taught throughout KS3 and KS4 is the encouraging of mutual respect and the discussion and acknowledgement of a variety of beliefs and opinions.  Students are provided with a safe environment in which to explore and express their own views.

In Design and Technology, students are taught the importance of the moral and social aspects of their design choices such as selecting morally ‘good’ product functions and inclusive designs solutions. The ecological and social footprint of products is also addressed referring to the whole lifecycle of a product, from energy used to extract and convert raw materials, product manufacture, packaging, transportation, energy consumed to use the product and options on end of life such as recycling or reuse.

Students in KS5 Psychology learn to appreciate and celebrate the diversity of human experience across gender and culture putting all behaviour into a wider context. In KS4 and 5 Health and Social Care, students learn to have equal respect for all service users.

Students in Media explore the importance of respect by focusing on how different demographic groups are represented in contemporary media texts.

In English, respect for different genders is explored through a diverse range of English texts, including ‘Twelfth Night, ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘Tess of the d’Urbervilles’ and ‘Wuthering Heights.’ Students explore issues related to respect for different cultures and races, through poetry anthologies at KS3 and KS4 and twentieth century texts, such as ‘In The Sea There Are Crocodiles’, ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ and ‘Of Mice and Men.’ The idea of respect for other people, and for the environment, is a keystone to all work in English.

In PE/Sport, mutual respect is delivered through the process of team games and problem-solving activities, where ethics and interactions between participants is key to successful outcomes.

In the Music curriculum, the discussions surrounding music from different cultures allows us to challenge the use of stereotypical cultural references and discuss how it can lead to discriminatory and prejudicial behaviour with the students. In Drama and Dance, the students spend a significant amount of time working in different group settings.  This encourages and allows the students to work as a member of a team, this is particularly apparent in practical work where each student adopts a particular role within a production or performance team.  The students develop skills in tolerance, understanding, empathy and mutual respect, which are exemplified by our participation in the Man Made boys dance project.

In the KS4 personal development curriculum there is a focus on sex and relationships education. Students develop their understanding that relationships are all about making positive choices, and that sexual orientation is a positive choice that all of us are free to make. Our KS3 students study friendship challenges and bullying as well as issues of consent and unwanted contact. Positive and respectful online relationships also play a vital role in the Personal Development curriculum.

In Computer Science students consider the ethics of data mining and how it can be used to benefit and harm individuals. They also consider how states can make the full use of laws like the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act to demand access to online search histories, passwords, emails and telephone communication. Students also consider how people can maintain individual freedom through safe and secure encryption of data.

In KS5 Sociology, students explore a wide range of cultures and identities, many of which may be very different to the familiar. They develop an understanding of identity formation along lines of diverse gender, ethnic and social class differences and explore the intersection of such identities. They learn to critically analyse and appreciate nuances in theoretical views of feminism, Marxism, postmodernism and social action theories, and how these perspectives can lead to often very different outcomes.

Tolerance for other faiths and traditions:

RE is compulsory until the end of KS4, which gives all pupils the opportunity to explore and experience a range of other faiths and traditions.  During their time at The Downs School, students explore issues as diverse as religious food laws, issues surrounding the problem of suffering, the differences between religious identities and a range of moral and ethical issues.  Through study both of and from religion, pupils are able to develop tolerance and respect for a range of faiths and traditions as well as reflect on their own views and beliefs. The provision of meaningful Collective Worship also allows students the opportunity to reflect on a range of traditions and their meanings to different people as well as themselves. 

Students are also given the opportunity to be involved in a school exchange programme with schools in France, Germany and Spain, giving them first-hand experience of cultures that differ from their own, as well as through the Languages curriculum. Through a focus on a different international festival or country each half term, they also explore cultural traditions in other countries and compare them to their own.

In PE/Sport, tolerance for other faiths and traditions is delivered through exposure to sports activities from ‘other cultures,’ such as softball or handball; the exploration of how issues of race, gender, disability or socio-economic background can be factors which affect participation in sport at key stage 4/ 5 in GCSE/ Alevel PE; and the participation of students in culturally diverse events (County Youth Games).

In their Art lessons, students explore different cultures through the Day of the Dead project and review how other cultures treat the dead. They also explore Paganism through The Greenman project, researching artists’ responses to the Greenman motif. The Music curriculum promotes tolerance and understanding of other cultures by incorporating music from many parts of the world (North America, South America, Africa and India as well as from other cultures closer to home in Europe and the United Kingdom). The importance of cultural differences is discussed in many different topics throughout KS3 and KS4 Geography. This is also explored in Year Eight English lessons, which focus on poetry from other cultures and traditions. At KS4, the GCSE Poetry Anthology also focuses students on numerous issues related to respect for all faiths and traditions.

In Design and Technology students are asked to consider the wider context when launching a new product to market, in particular how other ethnic groups, religious groups and genders may perceive the design or images used to represent the product.  In Food Preparation and Nutrition, students study how different food commodities are grown, prepared, and cooked in ethical ways and in accordance with a range of religious beliefs.

In History, students study a unit on migration to Britain through time, exploring the rich and varied cultures that have impacted Britain. In KS4 and KS5 Business lessons, students look at when businesses have got it wrong by not taking account of traditions and faiths when marketing products abroad.

Throughout the Geography curriculum students are afforded the opportunity to reflect upon and discuss British Values. By placing the school community at the heart of our studies we can look wider to the global context, deepening students’ understanding of other the perspectives of people from different backgrounds.

In the KS3+4 personal development curriculum, students study and compare diverse cultures, identities and communities whilst also actively addressing stereotypes and prejudice. There is an emphasis on inclusivity when discussing the LGBT+ community.

 In KS5 Politics, the role of culture is highlighted as a factor of voter behaviour.  The importance of the different mix of cultures and faiths is analysed in the context of politics in the USA. KS5 Sociology students, within their study of “culture and identity”, explore the huge range of factors that intersect to form the modern-day identity.  They consider how gender, sexuality, ethnicity, nationality, class and age identity are formed and the sheer diversity found in our complex and interconnected selves.

In KS3 and 4 sciences and in KS5 Biology, students study variation and inheritance and learn individual differences between humans and other animals. They recognise and appreciate the importance of diversity and understanding both ecological and cultural perspectives on life.

In Computing at KS3 students consider the best way to utilise social media for good, effective communication, and highlight the devastating effects cyber bullying can have, looking at exemplars from media to show how it has been used for both positive and negative benefits within society.

In English, ‘In The Sea There Are Crocodiles’ explores other faiths and traditions at KS3. At KS3 and KS4, we explore poems from different traditions and backgrounds.  In Film Studies we study Global, non-English language films. Through films such as Miyazaki’s Spirited Away students learn about traditional Japanese cultures and traditions. Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire teaches us about other cultures and religions, systems and beliefs.

Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now