Guidelines on promoting British values have been published by the Department for Education (DfE) to ensure youngsters leave school prepared for life in modern Britain.
All independent and state-maintained institutions will have a responsibility to actively 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.
Schools have hitherto only been required to respect these values but must now form a clear strategy for embedding them and showing how their work with pupils has been effective in doing so.
Youngsters will be expected to learn how citizens can influence decision-making through the democratic process, along with understanding that the freedom to hold other faiths and beliefs is protected in law.
They will be expected to appreciate the value of toleration of those who have different faiths or beliefs to oneself (or who have none) and the unacceptability of prejudicial or discriminatory behaviour. Identifying and combating discrimination is also to be promoted by schools.
Institutions will be able to use a range of methods to ensure pupils learn these values. For example, they can:
- Include age-appropriate information in the curriculum on the strengths, advantages and disadvantages of democracy; and how democracy and the law functions in Britain, in contrast to different forms of government in other countries.
- Use democratic processes to elect members of a school council and ensure all pupils have a voice that is listened to.
- Consider how extracurricular activities, including those run by pupils, could be used to instil these values.
- Hold mock elections while general or local elections are taking place, giving youngsters the opportunity to learn how to argue and defend points of view.
Parliamentary under secretary of state for schools Lord Nash said: "We want every school to promote the basic British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance for those of different faiths and beliefs.
"This ensures young people understand the importance of respect and leave school fully prepared for life in modern Britain."
Posted by Theo Foulds