Addressing fundamental British values in schools

Welcome to the Expert Subject Advisory Group’s latest newsletter, where we look at how to address fundamental British Values, update you on the College of Teaching, and share some of our free resources.

Our resources
If you haven’t yet taken a look at our new website, click here to access free primary resources. As we’re focusing on British Values in this month’s newsletter, you might be interested in the resources produced by our Citizenship group to support the implementation of the revised National Curriculum.

If your school has identified an issue in the primary curriculum that we could help with, please get in touch.

The College of Teaching – your chance to shape the vision
The College of Teaching is now proceeding with the recruitment of an independent board, as described in the Claim your College proposal. This proposal is supported by the DfE, which is supporting the set up of the College whilst enabling the College to remain independent. To read the Claim Your College proposal, make your voice heard, and add your support, please visit the Claim your College website.

Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural development, ‘British values’ and citizenship – what should schools be doing?
The DfE guidance for all schools on ‘Promoting British Values as part of SMSC in schools’ (November 2014) caused much confusion and consternation. What are these ‘British Values’, what should we be doing in our school and what will happen if we get an Ofsted inspection visit? Whilst there is scepticism from some about attaching the word ‘British’ to the values the DFE define as fundamental – ‘democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and believes’ – many agree these universal values along with human rights, should be taught and explored as part of a broad and balanced curriculum in every school.

Many subjects have a role to play in SMSC and values education, but one obvious and sometimes overlooked place to begin is Citizenship education. Citizenship remains a National Curriculum and GCSE subject in secondary schools and has a non-statutory National programme of study in primary schools. The subject includes teaching about democracy, the law, liberty, human rights and equality. When done well, Citizenship enables pupils to put these values into action when exploring controversial issues and as pupils take part in active citizenship projects and campaigns that are challenging and engaging for pupils. Citizenship is a subject that promotes values through teaching pupils respect for evidence, critical thinking skills, how to debate and the acceptance of others’ opinions. Citizenship lessons provide space to explore debates about identities, ‘Britishness’, ‘British values’ and what being a citizen means in a global world, within a safe and secure learning environment.

The revised Ofsted inspection framework (2014) makes clear inspectors will be examining how well school leaders ensure the curriculum is ‘broad and balanced, complies with legislation and provides a wide range of subjects, preparing pupils for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life in modern Britain’ and ‘actively promotes the fundamental British values’. So the message is clear: Ofsted expects school leaders to take action to ensure they demonstrate what their school is doing in the curriculum and beyond, and Citizenship should be a key part of this positive action.

Legislative requirements
Maintained schools have obligations under S78 of the Education Act 2002 to provide a broad and balanced curriculum, to promote spiritual, moral, social, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils at the school and of society. The emphasis is placed on actively promoting fundamental British values. Pupils are expected to have knowledge and understanding about: freedom to choose and hold other faiths and beliefs which is protected in law and an acceptance that other people have 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.

On a S5 inspection, Ofsted inspectors have to check that schools meet the requirements in legislation including:

Further information:

Liz Moorse is Chair of the ESAG for Citizenship, part-time Senior Manager of the Association for Citizenship Teaching and a freelance education consultant.

The Carter Review of ITE and Bett Show 2015

Welcome to the Expert Subject Advisory Group’s first newsletter. This month we’re giving you an update on the College of Teaching, the low down on the Carter Review, highlights from Bett 2015, and sharing our latest free resources.

Latest Resources
We have just re-launched our website –  click here to access our free primary resources and other useful resources including ITE good practice case studies. If your school has identified an issue in the primary curriculum that we could help with, please get in touch.

The College of Teaching – your chance to shape the vision
The Claim Your College coalition has now submitted a proposal about the future shape of a chartered College of Teaching in response to the Department for Education’s consultation ‘A world-class teaching profession’.

This proposal for a College by teachers for teachers is the product of extensive consultation with teachers, headteachers, and a range of professional associations. Recent consultations include two meetings in January, where teachers from all over the country fed back key messages from teacher-led events to a group of 80 educational organisations and thought leaders. At both events there was overwhelming support for accepting public funds to help start the College (as long as these came with no strings attached) and for the Claim Your College proposal.

The proposal envisages a College that is member-driven, independent and voluntary. It would benefit teachers by championing the status of the teaching profession, sharing knowledge and supporting professional development, and would seek to benefit young learners by ensuring high standards of teaching.

To read the proposal, make your voice heard, and add your support, please visit the Claim your College website.

What does the Carter Review of ITE mean for teachers and subject communities?
The recently-published Carter Review has some potentially significant implications for future teachers and providers of ITE. The Review highlights the importance of subject knowledge and subject-related pedagogic understanding as being integral to high quality teaching, stating that schools should prioritize this in their CPD and providers of ITE should ensure this element is secure in all training.

For subject communities this poses a huge challenge. Who should define what this core knowledge is? How will consensus be reached and how can we accommodate bodies of knowledge that ever ‘ever-shifting’? The Government will respond in due course to the Carter Review’s recommendation of commissioning an independent working group to develop the framework of core content for ITT. It is likely that this work will overlap considerably with the work that ESAG is proposing for professional standards for the new College of Teaching. We hope, therefore, to help shape the development of the ITT framework by drawing on our members’ considerable knowledge and understanding of essential core content and the way in which it evolves.

Educational technology showcased and debated at Bett
The Bett Show – the world’s largest educational technology exhibition – took place in January and hosted school leaders and school ICT co-ordinators from across the UK. Bett 2015 included talks from leading educationalists and technologists, CPD discussions, and practical ‘how-to’ sessions.

Bett showcased emerging classroom technologies including augmented reality and wearable technology, curriculum software to support the new national curriculum, and primary assessment software solutions. Talks and discussions included Sir Ken Robinson on his view that many countries are pushing reforms in the wrong direction, and Robert Mullins of Raspberry Pi and Bill Liao of CoderDojo on the state of computer science a year on from Gove’s announcement of an overhaul of ICT teaching in schools. Robert and Bill both co-founded organisations that are helping children and young people to code – Raspberry Pi through a credit-card sized computer that makes learning to programme fun, and CoderDojo though a global network of free computer programming clubs.

Next year, the Bett Show will take place from 20 – 23 January 2016.

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