British values in schools
British values are required to be promoted in all maintained schools, academies and independent schools in England. The announcement was made originally in 2014, in response to the Trojan Horse scandal in a number of schools in Birmingham.
The Department for Education (DfE) explains that 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.
We have published another article which summarises the Prevent strategy here.
In this article, we look at how ‘British values’ are defined, what teachers and schools need to do to promote them and link to a range of resources.
What exactly are British values?
The DfE explains that schools should 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.
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.
Through their provision of spiritual, moral, social and cultural (SMSC) development, schools should:
- Enable students to develop their self-knowledge, self-esteem and self-confidence
- Enable students to distinguish right from wrong and to respect the civil and criminal law of England
- Encourage students to accept responsibility for their behaviour, show initiative, and to understand how they can contribute positively to the lives of those living and working in in the locality of the school and to society more widely
- Enable students to acquire a broad general knowledge of and respect for public institutions and services in England
- Further tolerance and harmony between cultural traditions by enabling students to acquire an appreciation of and respect for their own and other cultures
- Encourage respect for other people
- Encourage respect for democracy and support for participation in the democratic processes, including respect for the basis on which the law is made and applied in England
The list below describes the understanding 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 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
- An understanding of the importance of identifying and combatting discrimination
How can schools practically promote British values?
The DfE has provided some examples of different actions that schools can take, such as:
- Include in suitable parts of the curriculum, as appropriate for the age of pupils, material on the strengths, advantages and disadvantages of democracy, and how democracy and the law works in Britain, in contrast to other forms of government in other countries
- Ensure that all pupils within the school have a voice that is listened to, and demonstrate how democracy works by actively promoting democratic processes such as a school council whose members are voted by the pupils
- Use opportunities such as general or local elections to hold mock elections to promote fundamental British values and provide pupils with the opportunity to learn how to argue and defend points of view
- Use teaching resources from a wide variety of sources to help pupils understand a range of faiths
- Consider the role of extracurricular activity, including any run directly by pupils, in promoting fundamental British values
British values: resources to support in the classroom
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