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Promoting British Values

by Michael Ford last modified 24 Jul, 2018 11:42 AM
"The aim of education is the knowledge not of facts but of values"- William Ralph Inge

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In November 2014, the Department for Education shared with all schools the need  to promote 'British values' and produced advice for doing so through SMSC.

Ofsted will assess 'British values' both through the curriculum and through SMSC (spiritual, moral, social and cultural development).

What is Ofsted doing?

Ofsted will be covering this under Leadership and management and specifically under SMSC (Spiritual Moral Social and Cultural development). Ofsted added 'British values' explicitly to the Social strand of SMSC in paragraph 133 of its new 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

In practice this means Ofsted are focusing on how effectively the school is ‘preparing pupils for life in modern Britain’. They are also exploring the safeguarding issue of:  ‘Are pupils being protected from extremism and given information to challenge extreme practice?’

In its revised Framework for school inspection, Ofsted is clear that schools will struggle to be successful  if they fail to deliver good SMSC, which now includes 'British values'.

But school leaders must also demonstrate that they are addressing British values through the curriculum:

'Inspectors should consider how well leadership and management ensure that the curriculum:

  • 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 2014, paragraph 152

What does this mean for our school?

There needs to be evidence that you are preparing pupils for life in modern Britain and that they have sufficiently robust systems in place to risk assess any opportunities for indoctrination.

Many schools will already have a range of tools in place:

  • If the school has a strong ethos based on Christian values that have been thought through and are embedded across the curriculum you are probably preparing children for life in modern Britain. Can you articulate the link from your Christian values 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’

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 ultimate responsibility 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.

A range of bespoke and centralised support is available through our CPD programme to help you develop both your SMSC and promoting British Values work.

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