Yesterday Saltley Academy started working with us on the latest edition of The Steps Series. St. George’s Steps is due for completion on 23rd April (naturally). It will look to dramatise seven moments in English history using vinyl footprints, handprints and speech bubbles to enable audiences to re-enact these scenes for themselves. The piece’s key theme is ‘British Values’.
The government now specifically requires schools to teach British Values and identifies the five key strands as Equality, Tolerance, Freedom of Expression, Rule of Law and Community. The Headteachers in our Partner Schools Network have asked us to help them think about what teaching these values may mean.
In discussing it with them it seems to us that a well run school is built on these principles so they currently are absorbed by students rather than explicitly taught to them.
The term ‘British Values’ has been know to rile people. There is the danger that framed in this way these values may be seen as in some way exclusive to Britain – which is of course nonsense. For this reason I like the idea that St. George wasn’t English, never visited England and is also the patron saint of the countries an regions, not least Georgia (check their flag out)!
Peter Weir, the wry Headteacher at Saltley, suggested that this skepticism around ‘British Values’ is very British – in a country without a written constitution the idea of writing a list of ‘British Values’ is regarded as somehow ‘un-British’.
The other challenging thing about ‘British Values’ is that of course they are fluid. Before the Magna Carta the rule of law appeared to be that the King can nick all your stuff and chuck you out of the country if he fancies. Until very recently equality stopped short of women voting or citizens having the right to roam their land, many pressure groups feel they are not yet free.
It is interesting how Freedom of Expression can place demands on Tolerance and fascinating that whilst Margaret Thatcher did not believe in Society the Conservatives are now keen on Community.
Anyway…all Year 7 students started working with Simon and Denise yesterday to start creating the scenes. Today Jack joined them to add some theatrical flare to proceedings. By Thursday Simon will be cracking into design while Denise collaborates with students producing worksheets to help visitors get the most out of the installation. Next week it is installation, installation, installation.
Though it is sited in a school and so not open to the public friends of Stan’s Cafe (by reading this blog you probably qualify as one) are welcome to the opening on the morning of Thursday 23rd. Send us an email if you want to come along, it should be spectacular and thought provoking.