We are living in a turbulent and uncertain world. The rise in hate crime, xenophobia and extremism that advocates violence is causing concern at all levels of British society, not just in the police and criminal justice areas. The government has responded to this by requiring education institutions, such as schools and colleges, to promote British values as a core responsibility.
According to Ofsted, British values fall into four areas:
- The rule of law
- Individual liberty
- Mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs and for those without faith.
The directives for schools, issued by the Department for Education, are “… to create and enforce a clear and rigorous expectation on all schools to 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.” The way they fulfill this can be through the curriculum in subjects like citizenship, through school leadershipor through spiritual, moral, social and cultural development (called SMSC). This will contribute to their Ofsted inspection grading.
Like schools, further education colleges need to demonstrate that they place the promotion of British values “at the heart” of all that they do. The challenge is ensuring that staff have the knowledge and confidence to tackle sensitive or controversial issues. Some may feel nervous about discussing controversial topics such as xenophobia, for fear of creating divisiveness rather than tolerance, pushing a particular moral stance. Ofsted expects colleges and schools to be pro-active and actively look for opportunities for discussions in group tutorials, teaching sessions and other areas.
To support teachers and managers, we have developed an Award (at Level 1) in Awareness of British Values and Citizenship. The aim is to give learners an understanding of the fundamental British values, as defined by Ofsted.
They will be assessed on their understanding of the terms ‘democracy’ and ‘British values’, the rule of law, individual liberty, how to respect people from diverse religious beliefs and other topics, most of which are part of the citizenship curriculum. There are different methods of assessment that include written tests, role plays and simulation, oral questions and answers, essays, portfolios and reflective diaries. What this does is give staff a framework within which they can safely tackle sensitive issues and comply with Ofsted’s requirements.
The ultimate aim is to foster greater inclusiveness, social cohesion and civic participation – the glue that holds us together.
Level 1 Award in Awareness of British Values and Citizenship