Government urges schools to promote respect and tolerance as British values
The Department for Education (DfE) has published guidance on promoting British values in schools to ensure young people leave school prepared for life in modern Britain. The revised standards cover independent schools, academies and free schools, ensuring they, along with local authority schools, promote British values. All schools must now have a clear strategy for embedding British morals in children and show how their work with pupils has been effective in doing so.
Schools now have a duty to actively promote the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance for those with different faiths and beliefs. Compliance with these guidelines will now be examined by Ofsted and independent school inspectors.
The guidance says schools must meet requirements for a daily act of collective worship, but they should also ensure pupils understand that the freedom to choose to hold other faiths and beliefs is protected in law. Having another faith should not be the cause of prejudicial or discriminatory treatment, it explains. Another key part of this plan is to ensure children become valuable and fully rounded members of society who treat others with respect and tolerance, regardless of background.
Pupils should also learn how citizens can influence decision-making through the democratic process and about the separation of powers in Britain between the executive and the judiciary.
The document recommends that pupils should engage in various classroom and extracurricular activities to promote British values, such as setting up a school council or running student elections and debates parallel to general elections so pupils can explore arguing and defending points of view.
Publishing the advice, the DfE said the requirement for schools to promote British values has already been set out in the 2002 Education Act. A DfE spokeswoman added that this guidance was intended to make clear to schools the extent of their duties under the act. In particular, the guidance emphasises that pupils should be encouraged to understand that “while different people may hold different views about what is right and wrong, all people living in England are subject to its law”.
The Association of School and College Leaders welcomed the guidance, but warned that the area was complex.