29th January 2015 | Kingsford Community School
- Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty
- Dr David Starkey, Historian
- Dr Shuja Shafi, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain
- Ron Cohen, Lead Ofsted Inspector
- Christine Ryan, Chief Inspector + CEO, ISI
The day proved both interesting and insightful. The key point to take away is that we need to actively promote British values within our schools.
The question is what exactly is meant by British Values and how exactly can we actively promote them?
D of E Nov 2014 ‘Promoting Fundamental British Values as part of SMSC in schools …. a guidance’
This gives us four British Values for us to promote:
- The rule of law
- Individual liberty
- Mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs
Beyond the starkness of these four stated values, the various speakers added their thoughts:
Ms Chakrabarti defined from her perspective what our values should be:
1 Dignity for all human life, not utilitarian ‘ends justify the means.’ All else comes from this ethical value.
2 Equality → equal treatment under the Law , empathy, non-discrimination, Do unto others… no torture or slavery, personal privacy.
3 Fairness → fair trials , (Magna Carta) right to a fair trial (the English Article) presumption of innocence, representation.
Equality is the most important. We love our own ‘human rights’ it is those of others … if we treat others equally as we would want to be treated… Look at all through this lens. It stops majorities trading away rights at minorities that they would not want themselves . Most disenfranchised are those who cannot vote. It forces people to think empathetically.
Right to offend…? Not a ‘duty’ to offend. We should not do it ‘for the hell of it’ and it is not appropriate to go to the limits of the law. Learn the difference between right and duty.
Kindness, politeness, sensitivity → these ethical spaces help us ‘rub along’.
Not the role of schools and universities to be ‘law enforcement’. We have a different role to play and it is not that of a spy. The role of education to provide a safe + trusted space for debate → children can speak what’s on their mind, the views they have, and be challenged.
Humility is not used often enough in public life by our public leaders . Enables difficult issues to be discussed, gives a framework for ethical debate that ‘hectoring’ does not.
We have many different affiliations (male/female, religion, job, locality etc). We should not try to force people to have arbitrary lines drawn and thereby feel compelled to limit/cut out part of us.
Ethical ‘codes of behaviour’ in school give guidance.
It’s all about empathy … face to face discussions. Look each other in the eye, not hide behind social media.
Dr David Starkey
Axiom: values are a product of time and history – notion of universal human values detached from history, time and place … arrgh!
All values are historical conditions… always changing e.g. look how far they have changed in last 35 years.
Our freedom does not come from thin air but is rooted in law, parliament.
The world does not move together. We do not develop at the same pace the world over.
Incitement to action is dangerous and should be ‘stamped on’.
A school is not a democracy. It is a place of enlightened despotism with a pastoral duty.
Different values have to be able to compete. Talent, originality is our hope.
Think, do things that haven’t been done before… allow, tunnel, discipline debate in education.
The young says to the old ‘you are wrong’ and it changes the world.
Education is not where you are coming from but where you are going to. Give the young the material to be better than us.
School is a protected island to grow and become who you are; requires muscularities, not dying of niceness.
Dr Shuja Shafi
Teachers are the bedrock of our society.
Best start in life and best education → aspiration of all parents.
Migrants benefit + give back.
Should British values be reduced to a checklist? Who decides the metric?
Fundamental problem is this discussion is taking place under the shadow of the ‘War of terror’.
We face challenges of marginalisation.
Firm in tackling extremism.
We can help by giving young people a stake in society.
Living in harmony.
We are a part of this society.
Children should feel ownership, and once rules debated and accepted, then the rules are the rules.
Actively Promoting British Values in our Schools
Here the divide between ISI inspected schools and Ofsted was most apparent:
Christine Ryan, ISI
Inspection done in context. They will look at each school’s individual circumstances, evidence, measures, staff CPD and resources.
They will not approach inspection as a science and they do not have an ‘objective test’.
Key is promoting – each school must have a plan and a measure (e.g. are all staff aware they must challenge discriminatory language and behaviour? Have we assessed the risk of parents or children being drawn into terrorism?). The focus will be confirmation through evidence and each school needs to be proactive in garnering this. They will look at the attitudes and actions of staff and pupils and they will seek the views of parents, pupils and others.
Her advice was to not re-invent the wheel, just re-align – i.e. apply a ‘British Values’ filter. Try to look at your school as an outsider would. Do you walk the walk day by day?
She quoted Aleksander I Solzhenitsyn, ‘Intolerance is the first sign of an inadequate education.’
Ron Cohen, Ofsted
- Does the curriculum comply with legislation?
- Is it broad and balanced?
- Does it promote tolerance + respect?
2. Leadership and Management
- Strategic or serendipitous?
- Policies underpinned by appropriate structures and processes?
- Consistently applied across school?
- Robustly monitored + evaluated?
- Evidence of Impact on pupils clear + detailed?
- Good intentions + aspirational outlook are not sufficient, nor is reactive leadership.
- Must be implicit and explicit.
- Expect to see evidence of clear vision → documentation where we are and where we want to be and how we are going to conduct ourselves in our community on the journey to get there?
- Statement of vision +…. who ‘owns’ it? Who writes it?
- Do we have an SMSC committee, Promoting British values committee? Community committee?
- Does the SMT go out as a team, sensing what is going on.?
- What does the graffiti say? (Often found on the inside back cover of exercise books taken in for scrutiny…)
Notes by Matthew Unsworth, Headmaster, Barrow Hills School