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Trojan Horses and Church School Values

by Michael Ford last modified 01 May, 2018 03:32 PM

Advice from Derek Holloway, Adviser for RE and Collective Worship in Dorset, January 2015

The recent ‘Trojan Horse’ enquiry in Birmingham and subsequently in Tower Hamlets  have resulted in changes to the Ofsted inspection requirements that will have implications across the country including here in Salisbury. As a result this is an issue that schools in Wiltshire and Dorset need to engage with.

What is Ofsted doing?

Ofsted will be covering this under Leadership and management and specifically under SMSC (Spiritual Moral Social and Cultural development).

The key change has come under the definition of social development:

  • 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

Ofsted have found it very difficult to ‘inspect’ such a vague politicians term as ‘Fundamental British values’ and so are falling back on ‘Preparing pupils for life in modern Britain’.

There is also a safeguarding issue here:  ‘Are pupils being protected from extremism and given information to challenge extreme practice?’

So for Salisbury Diocesan schools there needs to be evidence that they are preparing pupils for life in modern Britain and that they have sufficiently robust systems in place to risk assess any opportunities for indoctrination.

The good news is that:

  • If the school has a strong ethos based on Christian values that have been thought through and are embedded across the curriculum you probably have most of this covered , you might just need to articulate a link from these to fundamental British values
  • If you have been involved in the Rights Respecting School  programme you will have evidence to track your coverage of ‘fundamental British values’

But here are some starting points or other actions your school might consider taking:

  • First, check your website. This is where Ofsted will start. They will increasingly expect to see your taught curriculum up there. Does your website give evidence of how you are preparing pupils for life in modern Britain?
  • Are Staff, SLT, Governors clear about the ‘new’ language being used - Make sure everyone is up to speed. This is not just an issue for RE. It is worth noting that in this case ‘the buck stops with the governors’ they will be deemed to have failed to ensure the SMSC development of pupils. They must be part of this conversation.
  • Make sure all staff understand the new emphasis on British values in Curriculum, SMSC, and Behaviour and Safety. Ofsted will see TA‘s as well as teaching staff.  The taught curriculum is perhaps where we are most at risk in a rural context. Preparing pupils for life in modern Britain means making sure pupils are aware that we are a multi cultural multi faith society. There will be an expectation that pupils have meaningful experiences of diversity of the UK. This is difficult and expensive in our context but that will be treated will be taken as an excuse not a defence. You probably can’t win this one so take it on the chin.

We are planning to include discussion and further guidance for schools about this issue in a series of ‘Breakfast Briefings’ in the summer term.  In the meantime, if you have concerns or questions please contact Verity Holloway:

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