The Department for Education in November of 2014 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 both independent and state-maintained schools understand their responsibilities in this area. All 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.
Until now schools have been required to ‘respect’ these values, but as a result of changes brought in earlier in the year all schools must now have a clear strategy for embedding these values and show how their work with pupils has been effective in doing so. In a letter to the Education Select Committee in March, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Schools Lord Nash explained the changes were 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”.
Ofsted and the independent inspectorates now take the work of schools in this area into account during inspections.
Publishing the guidance, Lord Nash said:
A key part of our plan for education is to ensure children become valuable and fully rounded members of society who treat others with respect and tolerance, regardless of background.
We want every school to promote the basic British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance for those of different faiths and beliefs.
This ensures young people understand the importance of respect and leave school fully prepared for life in modern Britain.
Examples of the understanding and knowledge pupils are expected to learn include:
an understanding of how citizens can influence decision-making through the democratic process
an understanding that the freedom to hold other faiths and beliefs is protected in law
an acceptance that 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
an understanding of the importance of identifying and combatting discrimination
At Dunster First School, we deliver our British Values through every aspect of school life to truly embed this fully. The British Values curriculum features in our everyday curriculum, in our events, in our student leadership, in our values and vision, in our awards and in our community assemblies. Our termly themes link British Values with SMSC (Social, Moral, Spiritual and Cultural learning) with SEAL (Emotional and Social learning), with Religious Education, Citizenship and Eco Schools to deliver a fully enriched and well rounded curriculum enabling students to be fully prepared for life in modern Britain. Governance and school leaders take the responsibility of ensuring this is a core focus of school development and review, and is linked with safeguarding.