In recent weeks, many settings, including our very own Little Knellies, have been enjoying celebrations to mark The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. With street parties, flag waving and parades galore; the pomp and pageantry will undoubtedly create some exciting memories.

In amongst all of the fun, we aimed to continue to highlight the importance of Fundamental British Values (FBVs). When the FBVs were first introduced as a strand of learning back in 2014, it was often mocked or misunderstood…it is not just about fish and chips, Big Ben or even The Queen! In fact these values are very much relevant today, particularly with all the events happening globally:

  • democracy
  • the rule of law
  • individual liberty
  • mutual respect and tolerance

Even our youngest learners are capable of understanding these concepts (at times one might say better than some of the adults in charge!) but what might it look like in an Early Years classroom?

Democracy: this can be demonstrated through smaller actions, such as negotiating and turn taking in play. In Little Knellies we also have regular opportunities for the children to make collective choices, for example, voting with a counter for which book should be shared at the end of the morning’s activities.

The rule of law: developing a sense of right and wrong is complex for young children. Their sense of justice can be quite egocentric and very much based on their needs. This is absolutely age appropriate and acceptable. However, as practitioners we need to scaffold their evolving understanding of fairness. We have clear rules in our classrooms based upon respect for our property, for our environment and one another, this can be as simple as wearing aprons for painting to tidying away when we have finished playing.

Individual liberty: it is wonderful to support children’s growing sense of self. One of our key prerogatives is to instil a sense of self-confidence and for children to have a positive view of themselves. We have daily reflections in the classroom celebrating our successes and achievements as well as providing opportunities within the classroom for children to test themselves and experiment as learners. Knowing that the process is the key part of our learning rather than the finished product, although we should be free to feel proud of our creations too!

Mutual respect and tolerance: here at Little Knellies, we promote a sense of community, connection and equality. In play, inevitably there will be minor falling outs, we encourage students to see things from the other person’s point of view as well as respecting their choices. As an all girls educational setting we have a unique opportunity to challenge stereotypes attributed to gender! As practitioners we are continually reviewing resources and activities to ensure they reflect and value the diversity of children’s experiences and that challenge gender, cultural and racial stereotyping. We recently celebrated Diversity Day in our Junior School; encouraging the children and their families to celebrate their cultural identities (at least 56 different countries were represented as part of the rich tapestry of our community). The event also enabled us to understand others’ cultural connections a little better.

I am proud to be British, I am proud to live in a country which promotes and typically embodies these core values. As Early Years practitioners we have a crucial role to play in supporting children to develop these values for themselves to help empower them to continue to challenge the moments they will undoubtedly encounter, when these values may not be shared by those around them. I hope that our learners will all feel empowered to be themselves, to respectfully allow others to be themselves and continue to fight for this to be a universal right!