On the 27th November 2014 the Department for Education published guidance on promoting British values in schools to ensure young people leave school prepared for life in modern Britain.
The guidance aims to help schools understand their responsibilities in this area. All schools have a duty to ‘actively promote’ the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs. These values were first set out by the government in the ‘Prevent’ strategy in 2011.
All schools must have a clear strategy for embedding these values and show how their work with pupils has been effective in doing so. At Great Sampford Primary School we actively promote British values through our spiritual, moral, soclal and cultural (SMSC) curriculum which is taught through PSHE and R.E. lessons, whole school assemblies and class and school based displays as well as being embedded in our behavior policy.
The changes have been designed to “tighten up the standards on pupil welfare to improve safeguarding, and the standards on spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils to strengthen the barriers to extremism”. They also aim to ensure children become valuable and fully rounded members of society who treat others with respect and tolerance, regardless of background and that young people understand the importance of respect and leave school fully prepared for life in modern Britain.
Ofsted now takes the work of schools in this area into account during inspections.
Actively promoting the values means challenging opinions or behaviours in school that are contrary to fundamental British values. Attempts to promote systems that undermine fundamental British values would be completely at odds with schools’ duty to provide SMSC. The Teachers’ Standards expect teachers to uphold public trust in the profession and maintain high standards of ethics and behaviours, within and outside school. This includes not undermining fundamental British values.
The list below describes the understanding and knowledge expected of pupils as a result of schools promoting fundamental British values.
• an understanding of how citizens can influence decision-making through the democratic process;
• an appreciation that living under the rule of law protects individual citizens and is essential for their wellbeing and safety;
• an understanding that there is a separation of power between the executive and the judiciary, and that while some public bodies such as the police and the army can be held to account through Parliament, others such as the courts maintain independence;
• an understanding that the freedom to choose and hold other faiths and beliefs is protected in law;
• an acceptance that other people having different faiths or beliefs to oneself (or having none) should be accepted and tolerated, and should not be the cause of prejudicial or discriminatory behaviour; and
• an understanding of the importance of identifying and combatting discrimination.
It is not necessary for schools or individuals to ‘promote’ teachings, beliefs or opinions that conflict with their own, but nor is it acceptable for schools to promote discrimination against people or groups on the basis of their belief, opinion or background.