The Department for Education on the 27 November 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.
Schools have previously been required to ‘respect’ these values, but recent policy changes mean that all schools must have a clear strategy for embedding these values and show how their work with pupils has been effective in doing so.
The government set out its definition of British values in the 2011 Prevent Strategy – values of:
– democracyConsultation on promoting British values in schools, www.gov.uk
– the rule of law
– individual liberty
– mutual respect
– tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs
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 combating discrimination.
Examples of actions schools can take to promote British values are to:
- 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 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 for 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;
- consider the role of extra-curricular activity, including any run directly by pupils, in promoting fundamental British values.