New drive to promote ‘British values’ in schools
The recently appointed Ofsted chief inspector, Amanda Spielman, has vowed to press ahead with the ‘active promotion of fundamental British values’ in schools. Speaking to an audience at Wellington College, Ms Spielman said that the terror attacks in London and Manchester had brought into ‘stark relief’ the scale of the threat posed by extremism in Britain.
It was essential that the country’s children were equipped with the ‘knowledge and resilience’ required to confront the violent rhetoric peddled by those who ‘put hatred in their hearts and poison in their minds’, she said. In 2014, the Department for Education published guidelines on promoting ‘fundamental British values’. These included a requirement for schools to provide children with an ‘understanding of how citizens can influence decision-making through the democratic process’.
In a sign that Ms Spielman may go further than her predecessor, Sir Michael Wilshaw, she criticised ‘superficial passive displays’ and ‘tick-box exercises’ of the past, such as pinning up the Union Jack and pictures of the Queen.
Ms Spielman’s speech comes in the wake of fierce criticism of the Government’s counter-terrorism strategy. The scheme, known as Prevent, is under review, with Labour’s Andy Burnham dismissing it as ‘too top-down’ and calling for greater community involvement at the grassroots level.
Should sex education be compulsory in schools?
The UK government has voted to make Sexual and Relationship Education (SRE) compulsory in all schools, a change that could be in place by September 2019. In the current system, only state schools have compulsory sex education classes, and these do not cover the emotional aspects of relationships.