Fundamental British Values
All early years settings have a requirement to promote ‘Fundamental British Values’. This duty is part of the Government’s ‘Prevent’ strategy to reduce radicalisation by teaching acceptance and cooperation to young children. These values are all about children understanding respect, sharing, tolerance and caring.
The values are already embedded in our day-to-day teaching through both the EYFS and the Montessori principles. They are:
● Rule of law
● Individual liberty
● Mutual respect and tolerance for those with different faiths.
The word ‘British’ is causing confusion to some people. It’s not actually anything to do with being ‘British’. We should perhaps refer to these as ‘human’ values instead to be clearer. The emphasis is on what it means to be a human, and to live in a human society. Children learn about how to make choices, and how their opinions are important. They learn about other humans and how they are similar or different to themselves. And they learn how to play and work with other humans.
These values have always been part of the Montessori philosophy. Maria Montessori said, “The concept of an education centred upon the care of the living being alters all previous ideas. Resting no longer on a curriculum, or a timetable, education must conform to the facts of human life.”
This means that everyone is treated equally and has a say in what happens to them. For example, the children make their own choices and decisions about what they want to explore and how they are going to use the resources at the nursery. We always value children’s questions and opinions. When appropriate, children get to vote by a show of hands.
Rule of law
This means that children learn right from wrong, and understand that the nursery has rules that need to be followed. They learn how to manage their feelings and behaviour. We avoid telling children what NOT to do and aim to create a positive language environment for the children. For instance, instead of saying “don’t run in the classroom” we may request “gentle walking please.” Boundaries are explicitly taught through demonstration and gently but consistently reinforced.
Children develop their self-confidence and self-awareness at nursery. They learn that they are all free to have different opinions, and that everyone’s views should be respected. Children learn to have a positive sense of themselves, and are free to work at their own pace with their chosen piece of equipment, for as long as they want. They are encouraged to overcome challenges themselves, and to be as independent as possible.
Mutual respect and tolerance
Children learn to treat others as they want to be treated, for example by sharing and respecting others’ opinions. They learn what it means to be part of a community. The nursery promotes an ethos of inclusivity, where views, faiths, cultures and races are valued and where we encourage children to engage with their wider community, for example, by regularly visiting our local old people’s home.
At the nursery, we welcome children and practitioners of all religious, cultural and racial backgrounds. The teaching of respect for others, responsibility for one’s own actions, love and care for one’s neighbour and one’s environment are principles based on fundamental characteristics common to all types of humanity. In our Montessori community all children in the group are treated with equal respect and concern. Practitioners’ behaviour is firmly based on understanding of and respect for individual differences.
Horsham Montessori employs a variety of adults, volunteers and students between the ages of 16 and 70, having regard to their different backgrounds and levels of skill and experience. The cultural, social, religious and ethnic differences enrich the schools’ diversity, providing a living example of how people work together in a harmonious community, for the common good.