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Free article: Actively promoting fundamental British values

Published: Wednesday, 01 July 2015

Tony Powell advises on how schools can demonstrate that they are actively promoting fundamental British values.

Summary

  • Ofsted inspections will ask for evidence of how the school actively promotes fundamental British values (FBV).
  • DfE guidance recommends schools use spiritual, moral, social and cultural (SMSC) development for actively promoting fundamental British values.
  • The guidance suggests that schools can promote SMSC through collective worship and relevant activities beyond the classroom.
  • FBV includes ensuring that:
    • pupils are encouraged to regard people of all faiths, races and cultures with respect and tolerance
    • pupils understand that while people may hold different views about what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, all people living in England are subject to its law.

Transmitting values is part of a school’s core purpose, and the vast majority fulfil this excellently. Nevertheless, there is anxiety about the focus on fundamental British values and how to demonstrate effectiveness to inspectors. So, how do you actively promote fundamental British values?
This article provides some practical suggestions for how to do this.

Use the DfE guidance

The DfE guidance recommends that schools use spiritual, moral, social and cultural (SMSC) development for actively promoting fundamental British values, since this is already a requirement. See the guidance: Promoting fundamental British values as part of SMSC in schools.

This suggests that schools can promote SMSC through collective worship, establishing a strong school ethos supported by effective relationships and providing relevant activities beyond the classroom. It is unequivocal about two points:

  • Pupils must be encouraged to regard people of all faiths, races and cultures with respect and tolerance.
  • Pupils should understand that while people may hold different views about what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, all people living in England are subject to its law.

British values and SMSC

General aims

These should include:

  • enabling students to develop self-knowledge, self-esteem and self-confidence
  • enabling students to distinguish right from wrong and respect the civil and criminal law
  • encouraging students to accept responsibility for their behaviour, show initiative and contribute positively to the lives of those living and working in the locality of the school and to society more widely
  • enabling students to acquire a broad knowledge of and respect for public institutions and services
  • further tolerance and harmony between different cultural traditions by enabling students to acquire an appreciation of and respect for their own and other cultures
  • encouraging respect for other people
  • encouraging respect for democracy and support for participation in the democratic processes, including respect for the basis on which the law is made and applied.

Specific aims

Pupils should know and understand:

  • how citizens can influence decision making through the democratic process
  • that living under the rule of law protects individual citizens and is essential for their wellbeing and safety
  • the separation of power between the executive and the judiciary
  • 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
  • that freedom to choose and hold other faiths and beliefs is protected in law
  • that other people who have different faiths or beliefs from oneself (or none) should be accepted and tolerated, and should not be the cause of prejudicial or discriminatory behaviour
  • the importance of identifying and combatting discrimination.

Examples of actions

These include:

  • curriculum material should include information 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 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 elected by the pupils
  • use opportunities such as 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 a wide variety of sources to help pupils understand a range of faiths
  • use extra-curricular activity, including any run directly by pupils, in promoting British values.

Articulating the school’s contribution

Mission statement and aims

Is there a match between the values expressed in the mission statement and the fundamental British values? Is it possible to strengthen the link?

School ethos

Ethos is often thought of as intangible, but visitors to different schools are very aware that they have different values and ways of doing things. Relationships are the key. If they are characterised by mutual respect, and if senior staff and teachers act as role models for pupils, then they are preparing those pupils to be responsible and caring adults.

Democracy should be embedded in the ethos, so senior leaders should be proactive in looking for ways in which parents and carers, staff and pupils can contribute to decisions about the strategic direction of the school.

School policies

Many of the school’s policies will make a statement about values, for example, equal opportunities, inclusion and behaviour.

Equality objectives

Schools are required to have and publish equality objectives and it is straightforward to frame objectives that make a contribution to the fundamental values.

Curriculum

If we define the curriculum as everything a pupil learns about in school, we are not limited to the formal curriculum, but can also include:

  • assemblies and acts of collective worship
  • subject schemes of work
  • PSHCE programme
  • form periods
  • timetable suspensions
  • extra-curricular activities
  • school council
  • eco work
  • charitable work
  • pupil responsibilities
  • contributions to local and wider communities
  • partnerships and school networks.

Be overt

In early March I visited a primary school. The foyer is huge. While I was waiting for the headteacher I studied the display boards, one of which was on the topic of ‘British Values’. The display was large and eye-catching but consisted of only published posters illustrating issues such as democracy, the rule of law and the range of cultures in our society.

When the headteacher arrived I commented on the display and asked why it didn’t contain any pupils’ work. She explained that the display was only the starting point for a whole-school topic. This would be introduced through an assembly led by the headteacher and the school council. Each class would then work on aspects of British values, starting with an introduction in the foyer using this display. Over the course of the project each class would contribute work to create a very large display in the hall. The topic would be rounded off with another whole-school assembly.

This faith school is very open about its values. However, the school’s interim assessment report said it would not be inspected before the summer term of 2015 and the headteacher was working towards receiving the call on the second day back. The inspector who is asked to collect evidence on fundamental British values will be delighted.

Further information

  • Promoting fundamental British values as part of SMSC in schools, DfE, November 2014,
  • Ref: DFE-00679-2014: http://bit.ly/PromotingFBV

Toolkit

Use the following items in the Toolkit to help you to put the ideas in this article into practice: 

About the author

Tony Powell is an experienced Additional Inspector and local authority adviser. He writes extensively on education management, but his main work is in supporting schools to develop systems for self-evaluation, school improvement and continuing professional development. Tony can be contacted at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

This article was first published in the August 2015 issue of School Inspection and Improvement magazine.

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