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Roland Martin - Issue #51


Roland Martin

May 9 · Issue #51 · View online

Headmaster - City of London Freemen's school; Chief Officer - City of London; Chair - Society of Heads - '...write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing' Benjamin Franklin

Fundamental British Values 

What's it all about?
Having started with HM The Queen in my last blog, it seems something of a logical progression to segue on to British Values this week, not least as I prepare to inspect a school this week.
When the idea was introduced by the Department of Education in 2014 - seemingly as a reaction to the so called Trojan horse schools in Birmingham, still under surveillance even now - to run within our spiritual, moral, social and cultural (SMSC) curriculum, many school leaders wondered what it was all about. I think a good number of us also had some grave concerns about marginalization, alienation and potential bigotry at the instigation of the Prevent strategy.
The press answered with reflective articles where pundits and Joe Public, aka Google, ruminated on what these Fundamental British Values actually are.
However, here’s what the 2014 edict recommended:
Guidance on promoting British values in schools published
If the DfE is indeed guiding schools on promoting Fundamental British Values, what are those values? What do they look like? How will they prepare children for life in modern Britain? Why do they matter? 
What should we be teaching?
The guidance of 2014 equates to the following: 
- 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 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 different cultural traditions by enabling students to acquire an appreciation for and respect for their own and other cultures
- encourage respect for other people, and
- 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.
There’s also an additional point for independent schools regarding the Equality Act’s protected characteristics:
- encourage respect for other people, paying particular regard to the protected characteristics set out in the Equality Act 2010.
How do we measure success?
Ofsted added ‘British values’ explicitly to the Social strand of SMSC in its School inspection handbook 2014:
‘The social development of pupils is shown by their:
- acceptance and engagement with the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs; the pupils develop and demonstrate skills and attitudes that will allow them to participate fully in and contribute positively to life in modern Britain.’
There the Schools Inspection Handbook suggested that school leaders must demonstrate that they were addressing British values through the curriculum. However, this has changed in the School Inspection Handbook from September 2015:
‘Inspectors should consider how well leadership and management ensure that the curriculum:
… prepares pupils positively for life in modern Britain and promotes the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs and for those without faith…
… actively promotes the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs.’
School Inspection Handbook for September 2015, paragraph 138; School Inspection Handbook 2014, paragraph 152
Seeing it in action ...
I visited a local Prep School a couple of weeks ago and was very interested by the way that they teach FBV - essentially through practical engagement by taking boys ‘on tour’: Stratford, Oxford, Ironbridge, Bletchley Park, Manchester, the childhood homes of Lennon and McCartney, to name a few. A team of teachers and a bundle of boys took a British Values road trip; sounds like a great deal of fun!
Our own ‘City visit’ and ‘City day’ might well be considered a mini foray into Fundamental British Values, steeped as that square mile is in pomp, history, ceremony and the Magna Carta.
Out of interest, I asked my own and friends’ children what they thought were British Values: good manners; politeness; respect and queuing were mentioned!
A different take...
I have long been a fan of Akala. Anyone who raps about Shakespeare - and even founds a hip-hop Shakespeare Company dedicated to him - gets my vote, and it has been quite useful to use him as a teaching aid with students over the years. He has an interesting take on the concept of FBV and suggests that we don’t necessarily celebrate all of the things that we could. I’ll leave you in his capable hands …
The propaganda of 'British values' is a distortion of history – video | Opinion | The Guardian
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