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Stephen Hawking School

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Our Ethos

Stephen Hawking School is dedicated to raising the standard of educational achievement for children between the ages of two and eleven years with severe or profound learning difficulties.

The school is committed to the development and delivery of high quality relationships with families and local community organisations to ensure that the children attending our school achieve their full potential and become respected and active members of the local community.

The school is committed to a high level of team work in school, with parents, carers and other schools and agencies. This ensures enthusiasm for learning and the best possible experience and education for all.

All schools have to promote fundamental British values. The government set out its definition of British values in the 2011 Prevent Strategy. These values are:

  • democracy;
  • the rule of law;
  • individual liberty;
  • mutual respect; and
  • acceptance of different faiths and beliefs.

At Stephen Hawking School, these values are reinforced regularly and are part of the ethos of the school. In particular they are emphasised in the following ways:

Democracy

There is a strong sense of democracy in school. All pupils, regardless of their ability level, have the opportunity to have their voice heard via choice making that takes place in each classroom. For some pupils this will be as simple as being able to choose what to drink. For others they will be able to make choices over activities at playtime. At these times it is important for children to learn to share, and to understand that what they want may not have been chosen by everyone else.

For staff, decisions, where possible, are made by consensus and only when there are health and safety issues or impositions from out of school a more dictatorial style may be used. This level of democracy is centred around class team meetings, where key teaching decisions are made, and whole school staff meetings, where information is shared.

Team work is fundamental to the way that the school operates. It ensures that people work collaboratively to achieve a single end goal. As part of this approach all staff need to cooperate, recognise each other’s skills and talents and be prepared to accept constructive criticism. It ensures that everyone works in the same way for the best interests of each child. It is only via good team work that continuity and consistency can be achieved for all our children.

The rule of law

Laws are an important operating element of all countries, schools and classes. As a result, laws are reinforced in school at whole school and local class level. Primarily this is via the school’s behaviour policy although all policies effectively impose laws on all staff and children. Via these policies all the children learn about the consequences of breaking laws and begin to understand that it is only by laws being in place that everyone can have their voice heard and the rights of all can be considered, which includes the right to be treated fairly. School laws are formulated via choice making and team work unless they are imposed upon the school by central or local government.

Individual liberty

All our pupils are actively encouraged to make choices. This is always in a way which is appropriate to their level of development and it is the adult’s responsibility to ensure that any decisions that need to be made can be adapted to meet the needs of all pupils. Children are encouraged to make choices, knowing that they are in a safe and supportive environment. It is via these choices that all children can understand and exercise their own rights whilst being guided by the adults around them.

Mutual respect

The core values at Stephen Hawking School are about respect, acceptance, inclusivity and celebrating difference. This is demonstrated by all staff making sure that our children are included in activities. At Stephen Hawking School respect for others is shown by our children being encouraged to work together, to form friendships and the inclusion of all children in their games. It is also about respecting each person’s differences, be this different communication systems or children using wheelchairs or walking frames.

Acceptance of different faiths and beliefs

We hope, by celebrating different traditions and beliefs, to help the children at Stephen Hawking School to understand their place within a diverse community. We believe that it is important to celebrate a number of traditions and faiths, even if there is no child or family that celebrates particular traditions, as we hope this demonstrates support for members of the diverse local community of which our children are all members.