What do British Values look like in schools?
The Department for Education guidance includes sections on what schools should be doing through their provision of SMSC and what understanding and knowledge is expected of pupils; it also gives examples of specific actions a school might choose to take. We recommend that you download a copy and read the guidance carefully.
All key agencies (DfE, Home Office via Prevent, Ofsted) are consistent in their definition of British Values as “democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs”.
The latest Ofsted ‘School Inspection Handbook’ mentions British Values four times, referring to the definition above and asking inspectors to look for ‘acceptance’, ‘engagement’ and ‘promotion’. It should be “at the heart of school activities”, and this should be demonstrated by pupils, teachers and leaders.
This is no small ask, but throughout this resource, we offer suggestions for embedding British Values into the DNA of your school in a natural and healthy way.
British Values may be a sensitive subject for students and teachers for many reasons (which may not always be obvious). So it is essential to offer a safe and engaging environment for sharing, discussing and learning, but to recognise that students may not feel comfortable sharing. Nonetheless, we should give everyone the opportunity to speak and demonstrably value and respect their contributions.
Classroom management can help, by varying questioning techniques to avoid simplistic answers, by encouraging as many viewpoints as possible, by asking students to agree parameters for discussions (who can speak, how and when?) and by effectively chairing/facilitating the discussions.
It is also important to consider basic online-safety precautions to ensure that students understand how tolerance expected in the classroom applies equally beyond the school gate. Further information can be found on the LGfL online-safety portal, which includes its own British Values filter.