At Scissett Middle School we believe that education is a holistic process encompassing the whole child; our inherent ethos is dedicated to making every experience a learning or enriching one. It is important that our pupils become valuable and fully rounded members of society who treat others with respect and tolerance, regardless of background or belief.
Our aim is for every member of our school to embrace and promote the fundamental human values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance for those of different faiths and beliefs.
We expect all our children to understand the importance of these values and leave our school prepared for life in modern Britain.
Within the English Department, we believe that all we do is driven by cultural values and reflects the ever-changing world in which we live. As such, we aim to select suitable high-quality literature and read, write and discuss topics of local, national and global importance that shape our environment.
Within the English curriculum, we explore these five strands in some of the following ways:
We use discursive and persuasive arguments to debate, discuss and examine the power of words (both written and spoken) and images to influence and change opinion. Students are given a variety of opportunities to discuss and debate throughout all units of work. Occasionally, they are given the opportunity to ‘vote with their feet’, which allows students to develop their own viewpoint independently and justify this with the power of their words.
The rule of law
Through discussion and examination of selected texts, pupils will gain a greater understanding of the law, past and present. Pupils may examine arguments for and against capital punishment, whilst they study the text Holes, or animal rights, whilst studying a range of animal poetry and compare and contrast laws that differ between countries. Additionally, literature may be studied that gives rise to similar discussion, for example, should the key character, George from the novel Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, be imprisoned for the shooting of Lennie or could it be considered an act of compassion. Students will also get the opportunity to explore the theme of justice within Shakespeare’s King Lear.
Students are encouraged to explore and discuss texts which examine individual liberty and the right to hold personal beliefs and opinions. For instance, war poetry is studied in depth and the civil liberties of those involved in conflicts around the world, past and present, are also explored. Another example is explored within the non-fiction unit the Supernatural. Students will write to a real life person, who is planning on going to live on the planet Mars. In their letters, students will give their opinion on this matter, but they will treat it with sensitivity and mutual respect.
Pupils are taught to respect the cultures and beliefs of others through the media of poetry, narrative, journalism and other text types. They are taught and encouraged to think and write with empathy and recognise that behaviour has its consequences. It is crucial, also, in speaking and listening exercises that children learn to listen and respond appropriately and respectfully and expect this in return. Within the novel A Monster Calls, students are able to empathise with the main character, who experiences many struggles throughout the novel. Whole class guided reading lessons in year 6 also encourages a respectful and cooperative learning environment in which students share and nurture their skills and love of reading.
Tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs
Tolerance is promoted by the varied text types selected. Acceptance of others is fundamental to being able to empathise, which is a key skill of English. Poetry from other cultures examines a number of issues of tolerance and texts such as Holes and Of Mice and Men explore topics such as racism, discrimination and equality.
‘It is impossible to teach English without constant reference, implicit or explicit, to the values embedded in language and literary culture. NATE (National Association for the Teaching of English) believes that the subject should be seen not merely in instrumental terms but as a cultural study in which questions of values are constantly brought into focus for open discussion by reference, both to the enduring texts of literature, and to the emerging texts of contemporary media.’
Tom Rank, for NATE, 4 February 2015