The Department for Education (DfE) published guidance on promoting British values in schools (Promoting Fundamental British Values as part of SMSC in Schools, DfE, November 2014).
All schools have a duty to ‘actively promote’ the following fundamental British values:
- the rule of law
- individual liberty
- mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs.
They are to be actively promoted:
- to improve the safeguarding of pupils;
- to strengthen barriers to extremism; and
- to ensure that young people leave school prepared for life in modern Britain.
Under the terms of this duty it is recognised:
- that ”it is not necessary for schools or individuals to 'promote' teachings, beliefs or opinions that conflict with their own, but nor is it acceptable for schools to promote discrimination against people or groups on the basis of their belief, opinion or background" (Promoting Fundamental British Values as part of SMSC in Schools, DfE, page 6). And,
- that there is no intention to "discriminate against any religion or undermine religious freedoms”. ”The standard does not mean … that schools must promote alternative lifestyles or same sex marriage. Rather, it requires respect for other people, even if they choose to follow a lifestyle that one would not choose to follow oneself” (The Equality Act 2010 and schools: Departmental advice for school leaders, school staff, governing bodies and local authorities, DfE, May 2014)
The way a school actively promotes British Values is taken into account during an inspection.
In St Paul’s School we ensure:
- that the curriculum policy, plans and schemes of work do not undermine,
- that the teaching given does not undermine, and
- that the Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural education provided actively promotes Fundamental British Values.
British Values are taught in St Paul’s School through the SMSC elements of the subjects and topics taught in the curriculum. In addition they are reinforced regularly in the following ways.
They discuss and decide each year in their class rules for the class. The pupils also have a strong voice in our school through the active, elected School Council (Pupil Voice) that meets regularly. In such ways they discover how they can influence decision making.
The Rule of Law
The importance of law, whether it be that which governs an individual, a class, the school, or the country (both civil and criminal), is taught in whole school meetings, by class teachers, and in curriculum activities. Pupils are taught
- the value and reasons for laws, especially that they are essential for the wellbeing and safety of themselves and others,
- the responsibility to keep them, (e.g. all people living in England are subject to the law of the land), and
- that those who make laws are separate from those who deal with law-breakers, and,
- there are consequences when laws are broken.
Pupils are actively encouraged to make choices, knowing that they are in a safe and supportive environment. Pupils are encouraged to know, understand, and exercise their personal freedoms and they are advised how to exercise them safely (for example in whole school meetings, by class teachers, in relation to E-Safety and through PSHE lessons). They are taught that the freedom to hold other beliefs is protected in law.
Mutual Respect and Tolerance of those of Different Faiths and Beliefs
Mutual respect and tolerance are central features of the teaching of Jesus Christ. As a consequence ethnic and cultural differences (including beliefs and behaviours) are recognised and the reasons for them explored and explained.
In St. Paul’s School we actively challenge pupils, staff or parents who express opinions contrary to Fundamental British Values, including those defined as ‘extremist’.
Extremism is defined in The Prevent Duty (June 2015, page 5) as: “vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs” and “calls for the death of members of our armed forces, whether in this country or overseas.”