As part of pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development, schools must actively promote, uphold, and teach British values. According to Ofsted, this includes meeting requirements for collective worship, establishing a positive school ethos which is maintained through effective relationships throughout the school, and providing relevant activities outside of the classroom.Staff must encourage pupils to respect people of all faiths, races and cultures, and to treat everyone with tolerance and kindness.
Pupils are also expected to understand that while people may hold differing views about what is right and what is wrong, everyone living in England is subject to its law. The school’s ethos and teaching should support the rule of English law, both civil and criminal, and schools should not teach anything that undermines it. Parents should also be made aware of the school’s ethos and teaching in this respect.
If religious law is taught, care must be taken to ensure that pupils understand the connections and differences between state and religious law.
What are British values?
Simply put, British values include:
The rule of law
Tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs
how the people can influence decision-making through the democratic process
that living under the rule of law protects individual citizens and is essential for their wellbeing and safety
that there is a separation of power between the executive and the judiciary, and that while some public bodies such as the police and the army can be held to account through Parliament, others such as the courts maintain independence
that the freedom to choose and hold other faiths and beliefs is protected in law
that other people having different faiths or beliefs to oneself (or having none) should be accepted and tolerated, and should not be the cause of prejudicial or discriminatory behaviour
the importance of identifying and combatting discrimination
How school trips teach British values
Teaching British values is not a simple thing. They must be put into a context that pupils can understand, so often this means teaching them within a subject lesson rather than as part of a separate curriculum strand. In fact, creating a curriculum risks creating a learning check-list rather than an innate understanding of British values as part of the character-building work a school does.
British values should be lived and breathed through a school’s ethos and values, and interwoven throughout the curriculum. School trips can substantially contribute towards a positive ethos.
School trips can cover many aspects of SMSC, and British values within that. While British values can be theoretically taught through different curriculum subject areas in the classroom, a school trip can be more practical and hands-on. For example, pupils can learn about Guy Fawkes and discuss the rule of law in a history lesson, and visit the Houses of Parliament on a school trip.
Religious education is another important facet of SMSC and teaching British values. Classroom lessons can teach the importance of tolerance and respect for others, and visiting local places of worship for different faiths can reinforce this learning and actively promote diversity.
Many books contain themes about mutual respect, liberty and democracy. English lessons could look at these themes and how characters act, and a school trip can put this into a real-life context. Trips to The Storybarn, Shakespeare’s Family Homes or the Rainbow Factory will bring this learning to life.
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