5 British values |
of British values
64. In his statement on 9 June 2014, Michael Gove
announced that the Government would "put the promotion of
British values at the heart of what every school has to deliver
The definition of British values adopted is that set out in the
Prevent strategy, ie: democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty,
mutual respect and tolerance of those of different faiths and
beliefs. The new requirement actively to promote British values
is the most wide-reaching of all the measures taken by the DfE
in response to the Trojan Horse affair, extending to maintained
schools, academies and nurseries.
65. School leaders expressed immediate concerns about
this change on the grounds that it was too rushed and likely to
have unintended consequences. Malcolm Trobe of the Association
of School and College Leaders told the BBC that there was a danger
of "over-regulation" and "a knee-jerk response"
and that the proposals could make teachers reluctant to discuss
The Christian Institute also raised objections, claiming that
the regulations "could be used to punish any school in the
independent sector which has a religious ethos, a set of traditional
beliefs, or who don't over-promote every minority group's world
66. Regulations were laid before Parliament on 8
September 2014 to bring the changes into force in academies from
29 September. The explanatory memorandum provided with the regulations
outlined the outcome of the consultations on the DfE proposals.
Of the 1462 responses, 909 were against the changes because of
fears that they would introduce new values, extend the equality
agenda, discriminate against Christianity and undermine religious
freedoms. A further 516 questioned whether the changes were required.
The DfE reported that "a significant number" of respondents
disagreed with the proposed changes but the Department considered
that "this was because of misunderstanding the effect or
raising issues that were not part of the consultation". As
a result, the DfE made no changes to its proposals before making
67. We raised with the Secretary of State the possibility
that the requirement actively to promote British values could
have unforeseen negative consequences. In particular, we discussed
with her issues around free speech and academic freedom and whether
the requirement concerning tolerance would inhibit legitimate
debate in schools or the engagement of guest speakers with non-mainstream
views. The Secretary of State accepted that "I do not think
any of us are saying that any of this is particularly easy".
She suggested that heads "could ask for advice externally
or with their governors"
if in doubt about what was allowed. She also accepted that "we
can certainly share best practice", although she was unwilling
to "lay down rules" about how the requirement was to
68. At the time of the Trojan Horse investigations
the most recent guidance on schools and the Prevent strategy was
a June 2013 document by the Association of Chief Police Officers,
Prevent, Police and Schools. Helping Schools Stay Safe: Guidance
for police officers and police staff, which sets out the context
for schools and suggests activities for police and schools to
undertake in partnership.
The most recent DfE guidance was the Learning together to be
safe toolkit for schools published in 2008 by the last government,
although the DfE published a research report in 2011 on Teaching
approaches that help to build resilience to extremism among young
people. The DfE confirmed in October 2014 that the latter
document remained "relevant guidance for schools".
In November 2014 the DfE published statutory advice for heads
of maintained schools in the form of a very short report (nine
pages including covers) on Promoting fundamental British values
as part of SMSC in schools.
69. Another concern was that the new requirements
were a national solution to a local problem. The Secretary of
State has consistently confirmed that the DfE has no evidence
of similar activities outside Birmingham. She told us that "There
are sometimes individual schools where concerns are raised with
the local authority or with the Department [
] but nothing
on the scale of the number of schools involved in Birmingham so
far". On the
other hand, she argued that "It could be a nationwide issue
] and if we dismiss this and try to say that this is a
one-off, we will be letting down a generation of children and
families across the country".
In her statement in January this year, she stressed that the British
values in question "unite rather than divide" and that
"Every school should be promoting fundamental British values,
not just because they act as a bulwark against extremism, but
because it is the right thing to do".
Ofsted inspection of British
70. Ofsted now inspects the active promotion of British
values as part of its judgement on leadership. Although Sir Michael
Wilshaw previously suggested that there should be an additional
separate judgement on the curriculum to include preparation for
life in modern Britain, this has not been pursued.
There have been a number of reports of Ofsted inspectors coming
into conflict with faith schools over inspections as a result
of the changes to the inspection regime. For example, on 3 October
2014 the Guardian reported that a snap inspection of a Roman Catholic
secondary school in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, had found that younger
pupils at the school "show less awareness of the dangers
of extremism and radicalisation" and questioned whether the
school prepared pupils "for life and work in modern Britain".
The report was rapidly withdrawn for review.
A school in Lincolnshire was told it could not be rated as outstanding
because its pupils lacked "first hand experience of the diverse
make-up of modern British society".
There have also been controversial inspections of three orthodox
71. Sir Michael Wilshaw defended Ofsted's strategy
for inspecting British values in schools. He told us "We
are very clear in our guidance, and that is why it has been difficult
in some of the faith schools that we have been to [
we are determined to keep to the course we have set".
He argued that it was "absolutely essential" that schools,
whether secular or faith schools, took on their "big responsibility
to ensure that they teach British values, advise youngsters on
what is happening in our society and give them access to knowledge
about different faiths, communities and cultures".
72. The British
values which are now to be promoted in all schools are universal
and an important part of what children should learn. We support
the introduction of the requirement on all schools to ensure that
such values are actively promoted to all students. Monitoring
how they are promoted in individual schools must be done with
common sense and sensitivity.
78 HC Deb, 9 June 2014, col 266 Back
"School heads warn of Trojan Horse overreaction", BBC
News, 12 August 2014, accessed 3 March 2015 Back
Explanatory memorandum to the Education (Independent School Standards)
(England) (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014, No. 2374) Back
Association of Chief Police Officers, "Prevent, Police and Schools. Helping Schools Stay Safe: Guidance for police officers and police staff",
(June 2013) Back
Department for Education (EIS0002) Back
Department for Education, Promoting fundamental British values as part of SMSC in schools
(November 2014) Back
HC Deb, 29 January 2015, cols 1017-8 Back
Advice note provided on academies and maintained schools in Birmingham
to the Secretary of State for Education, Rt Hon Michael Gove MP,
as commissioned by letter dated 27 March 2014, 9 June 2014 Back
"Catholic school breaches 'Trojan Horse' Ofsted rules",
The Guardian, 3 October 2014, accessed 3 March 2015 Back
"Ofsted criticises school for lack of diversity", BBC
News, 20 November 2014, accessed 3 March 2015 Back
"Ofsted downgrades Jewish school for failing new 'Trojan horse' regulations",
The Guardian, 29 October 2014, accessed 3 March 2015 Back
Oral evidence taken on 28 January 2015, HC (2014-15) 880, Q70 Back
Ibid, Q69 Back