British Values & SMSC


At Copthall the exploration of British Values cuts right across our curriculum and wider school life, as does our focus on spiritual, moral, social and cultural (SMSC) development. The values of tolerance and respect for other religious cultures ensures students make a positive contribution to life in modern Britain and a sense of what it means to be British. Our Rewards and Sanctions policy clearly outlines how opinions and behaviour that is contrary to fundamental British values can be challenged and this is also reinforced in the topics covered in PSHE.

By providing a safe and supportive environment, we aim to develop our students, their skills and values which will enable them to live their lives as respectful, caring and responsible citizens.

Our core values are continuously shared and reinforced with students. They are visibly on show in all classrooms and in student planners:

  • Respect
  • Responsibility
  • Aspiration
  • Equality for All
  • Support and Safety

As a diverse school, we recognise the multi-cultural, multi-faith and ever-changing nature of the United Kingdom. We follow equal opportunities guidance which guarantees that there will be no discrimination against any individual or group, regardless of faith, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, political or financial status, or similar.

The Government emphasises that schools are required to ensure that key ‘British Values’ are taught in all UK schools. The government set out its definition of British values in the 2011 Prevent Strategy and this was reinforced in 2014: promoting British Values as part of SMSC in Schools.

These new regulations sit alongside the requirements of the Equalities Act.

The Five British Values are:

1. Democracy

2. The rule of law

3. Individual liberty

4. Mutual respect

5. Tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs

Here are some examples of when British values are shared:


Our aim is to empower our young women to actively engage in the democratic process and have their voices heard. Opportunities to exercise their right to vote in school helps students understand the importance of voting in local and national elections once they leave school.

In school students have the opportunity to vote for:

  • Form and Sport Captains
  • Student Senate – who provide the student voice for the school
  • Sixth Form Leadership
    Students also are able to develop the value of democracy during a range of other activities, for example:
  • Jack Petchey Speak Out Challenge
  • Democracy is a theme in our pastoral programme through debates
  • UK Youth Parliament candidate that goes forward to the Barnet Elections (3 candidates in the last 4 years have succeeded in being elected onto the Barnet UK Youth Parliament
  • Students are actively involved in the interview process of new staff
  • Student voice led through our Anti-bullying ambassadors
  • Students have been involved in the selection of our uniform and catering services.
  • Student voice feedback on whole school careers related events
  • Mock elections, both in PSHE and to coincide with general elections
  • In PSHE lessons, students learn about democracy in the UK, the voting process, parliament, government, the role of MPs, how to make their voice heard in UK society, and more.
  • We also invite speakers to discuss democracy with the students during PSHE, for example, a speaker from Parliament UK in Autumn 2019 to mark UK Parliament week.

The Rule of Law

The importance of laws are reinforced at all levels at Copthall. We want our students to understand that whether these laws govern the class, the school, the community or the country, they are set for good reasons and must be adhered to.

It is reflected in our Rewards and Sanctions policy, which is based on our values, it sets out the rules, responsibilities and the consequences. Our policy supports our mission statement to ensure that all students can learn and flourish in a safe and positive environment.

In addition, our local Community Police Officer has close links with the school and works with our students and families to help support their understanding of the rule of Law.

  • Year 7 have had sessions led by an organisation called ‘Your Life you choose’, including the Police, Ambulance, fire brigade, Prevent and many more. ·
  • Year 12 go to the Arts Depot to watch the ‘Safe Drive Stay Alive’ production led by Barnet and emergency services.
  • We believe that clear explanations and real life stories emphasise the importance of the rule of law for our pupils.
  • Our assembly programme reinforces this
  • Year 12 engage in an interactive session delivered by governors, employers, teachers on rights and responsibilities whilst on work experience
  • In PSHE sixth formers learn about how laws are made in the UK, to further their understanding of the rule of the law. In Relationships and Sex Education lessons, students learn about the law, for example with regards to harmful practices, sending explicit messages, forced marriage, marriage and civil partnerships, and consent.
  • Students also learn more about the law in PSHE Health lessons, for example on the topic harmful substances.

Individual Liberty

We believe that the issue of individual freedom and liberty is particularly relevant in an all-girls context. Our core values of aspiration, respect, responsibility, safety and support and equality for all positively promotes our students to use their liberty to play an active and full role in the community. As a school we challenge negative female stereotypes and encourage all girls to aspire to be the very best that they can be.

Successful female role models are promoted via assemblies and in particular our Careers Fair, where external female speakers come to talk to the students about their chosen career and the skills that are required for this. Speakers this year included representatives from our alumni, the NHS, HMRC, Law, medical science, Imperial College, TFL, Widening Access Network, Ecoworld, Bank of England, St John’s Ambulance, Berkeley Group, Ernst and Young.

L&Q, a regional employer we work in partnership with, deliver interactive ‘Not just for boys’ A session designed to challenge gender stereotypes specifically within construction careers.

Industry participants are brought into the classroom to interact with students and help bust myths around the opportunities for women in STEM roles and industries like construction.

Our PSHE programme provides students with the opportunity to explore key topics such has radicalisation to develop their understanding of the risks associated and what actions to take. Furthermore, students in year 8 and 10 also have explicit lessons on individual liberty, furthering their understanding of this concept, human rights, as well as their rights, freedoms and responsibilities as citizens of the UK. Students also further develop their understanding of individual liberty in relationships lessons, for example through discussions of the importance of consent, contraception and unplanned pregnancy choices, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnerships, and much more. Students also reflect on their own values and choices during reflections in PSHE on careers and a range of speakers from different professions are also invited to PSHE lessons.

Staff have completed on line Prevent training and have also had training on radicalisation.

Staff are also given clear guidance and have completed on line training on the issues that affect women around the world such as Female Genital Mutilation. Our Directors of Learning, are non-teaching and are all trained in Advanced Safeguarding and students know who they can speak to if they have any concerns. We also have a school counsellor who is available for students to talk to and in addition runs clubs for LGBT.

We celebrate International Women’s Day with speakers from a wide and diverse range of careers including, engineering, law, finance, and media.

Mutual Respect

One of our core values is respect and this is reinforced and acknowledged by our rewards and sanction policy. As a school we endeavour to provide our students with the opportunities to interact with each other and the local community to develop this culture.

Students have the opportunity to participate in a wide range of activities in school and out of school, these include: Jack Petchey Speak Out challenge, English National Ballet, Holocaust Memorial Project, Sports Leadership Academy, participation in Sports, Music, Dance and Drama events, Mock Bar Trial, Debate Mate, Franklin Scholars. In addition, our students are used as guides for Open Days, are on interview panels for the recruitment of staff and have a wide range of leadership opportunities.

Our enrichment programme ensures our students have the opportunity to culturally enrich their lives, which previously they may not have been able to, increasing their interactions with each other and the wider community.

Assemblies Promote Respect

The PSHE programme also fosters the value of mutual respect and tolerance. For example, we teach students about the Equalities Act and embed the importance of respecting people of all faiths, sexualities, races, genders and more. This year, students heard from a Stonewall speaker and in the final week of term we will focus on the value of Equality in PSHE. Our focus on anti-bullying in PSHE and throughout the school also reinforces the value of mutual respect. This value underpins all relationships lessons as well as lessons on the wider world in PSHE.

Tolerance of Those of Different Faiths and Beliefs

At Copthall we take pride and respect the cultural diversity of our school. We believe that tolerance is gained through knowledge and understanding and is achieved through equipping students with the ability to understand their place in a culturally diverse society and by giving them opportunities to experience such diversity within the school community.

Students are tolerant of other faiths and beliefs and this is accomplished in the following ways:

A tailored assembly programme, PSHE, celebration and acknowledgement of religious and cultural festivals, rewards and sanctions policy, anti-bullying policy, form time activities.

Through our curriculum and the routines of our daily school life, we strive to demonstrate tolerance and help students to become knowledgeable and understanding citizens who can build a better Britain for the future – Leaders for Tomorrow.

Our Religious Studies curriculum provides a broad and balanced education on a range of faiths, religions and cultures.

We also run a number of trips abroad throughout the academic year from which our students gain valuable experience of other cultures and languages.

Students are actively encouraged to share their faith and beliefs within the school: Ramadan; World Religions Week; Black History Month.

Members of different faiths and religions are encouraged to share their knowledge to enhance learning within classes and the school.

Students visit places of worship that are important to different faiths.

We actively promote diversity through our celebrations of different faiths and cultures. · Opportunity and a space is provided for daily prayer.