HMC Insight: Values, British values and educational tensions

10 December 2015
Posted by Heidi Salmons
In this extract from a longer essay* Richard Maloney (Bede’s School) ponders the role of governments, schools and individual teachers in combating radicalism.

In January this year, the 100 Group of Heads – a body of fifty state school and fifty independent school Heads who have a commitment to furthering co-operation between the two sectors – met for a conference on “British values”.

Why were we discussing this? The answer probably lies with the previous Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove. In response to what he and the Prime Minister perceived to be the growing threat of radicalisation to young people by extremist groups, they felt schools had a crucial role to play in addressing that danger. Consequently, the “Prevent” strategy was launched in 2011 and it was underpinned by the notion of “fundamental British values.”

As a result, the Department for Education has determined that “schools should promote the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs.” New this term, however, is a requirement that
schools are to “actively promote” these British values rather than, as was the case, ensuring that pupils “respect” them.

To read more, see issue 5 of HMC's Insight magazine.