Ask Brenda: Promoting 'British values'...

Written by: Brenda Bigland | Published:

QUESTION: As a school, how should we go about meeting the new duty to promote British Values?

To meet obligations under Section 78 of the Education Act (2002), maintained schools must promote the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils and ensure that they are actively promoting fundamental British values.

Guidance from the Department for Education (DfE) in November highlights British values as democracy, rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs. How do we do this?

Here are some suggestions:

Look at all aspects of the curriculum and identify clearly where we help children to work together, to be responsive to the needs of others and to respect each other's beliefs. For example, religious education, multi-faith assemblies, working as a team in PE/sport, or through humanities and learning about how and why others have come to live in the UK.Talk to the British Council and seek international partners. Through this you can identify projects which fit your own curriculum while reaching out to other nations.

Ask your MP or MEP to support children's understanding of democracy, rule of law and liberty. You may be able to visit the Houses of Parliament, which offer really good tours. How effective is your own school council? How are they elected? Is there a fair voting system? Are reports published?

Visit a courtroom. Ask a local magistrate or lawyer to come in and talk to the children or set up your own debating groups and give them some hard-hitting themes to debate allowing the children to vote on the outcome.

The DfE says: "It is expected that pupils should understand that while different people hold different views about what is 'right' and 'wrong', all people living in Britain are subject to its law. The school's ethos and teaching, which schools should make parents aware of, should support the rule of English civil and criminal law and schools should not teach anything that undermines it."

So, have you changed your Teaching and Learning Policy to reflect how these new strands are being addressed? Is it clear in your teachers' planning? Have you used part of an INSET day with all staff present to allow them to work together to identify where and how these areas are addressed within their own curriculum for the year? This will also give you evidence for Ofsted.

Is your behaviour policy clear about what you do to help children to know the difference between right and wrong, to be tolerant and to be a part of a team? Were the children involved in the development of the policy?

Does your home-school agreement reflect how parents and pupils can work with the school to ensure that the community of the school are all singing from the same hymn sheet? Is there a section in the school brochure giving the expectations of home-school partnership to promote these areas?

Do you report on visits to the school from those who can support these strands within a newsletter? Or haveyou considered a Community Award each week for pupils? There is clarity from the DfE about the need to involve parents and the community, so ensure you tell your community what you are doing.

Ask for volunteers from the parent body who may have something to offer – talks about their home nation, someone who works within the law who can come in? Ask parents to fill in a short questionnaire at the end of the year about what they know that the school is doing. This is your evidence of parental understanding and involvement.

  • Brenda Bigland CBE is an education consultant, trainer and coach and a former primary school headteacher. Visit If you have a question that you would like Brenda to advise on, email Headteacher Update at

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