Why ‘Fundamental British Values’ are misunderstood
I often find myself in debates about ‘British Values’. For anyone reading this outside of the education system in the UK, you might wonder what I’m talking about so here they are:
Rule of Law
It’s a requirement for schools, colleges and providers of training and apprenticeships to cover them. Whether they are referred to as ‘British’ Values is a debate that rages in all constituent parts of the UK.
I’m lucky enough to work at every level of the education system – from early years to HE so regularly get into discussion about BVs. How can we embed them? What’s the point of them? How can they be delivered in an age appropriate way? Why ‘British’?
My response is always the same. We have a responsibility to encourage people to develop their own personal ethics which they’ll display through integrity, and understand their rights as a citizen.
What’s the problem with that?
For vocational education there is the alignment with their chosen career too.
In recent weeks for example, I’ve heard some beautiful examples from apprentices at Total People in hospitality and hairdressing. I also had a great discussion with The Open University colleagues about the cross over with policing, nursing and social care ethical standards. I watched our children at WISE ACADEMIES talk about them with fluency during inspection.
The question must surely be ‘why wouldn’t we want to support people to be the best version of themselves?’ The BVs are the start point to that, not the end. They aren’t a box to tick to say we covered it in induction or in a progress review.
I will say this. For any of you who have primary age children at a school which has embedded BV successfully, in a way that allows young children to explore their rights and their own values, you’ll know it. It’s exciting to see. I can’t wait for them to be adults and bring all of that with them.
Louise Doyle is a Co-Founder and the CEO of Mesma.