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British Values?

November 29, 2014

brit valuesIn the wake of the so-called ‘Trojan Horse’ enquiry there is some new guidance supports the Ofsted Inspection Handbook July 2014 for inspections from September 2014.

It states that Religious Education should be based on the agreed syllabus established by the local Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education (SACRE). This is not true. It should be based on the work of the LA’s Agreed Syllabus Conference.

It goes on to say that Collective Worship must he wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character, without defining what this is or what percentage signifies ‘mainly’. Nor does it say that it must be appropriate to the pupils’ family backgrounds.

This is not the first time that OFSTED has inspected schools based on ‘guidance’, which is optional, rather than ‘the rule of law’ which is the 1988 Education Reform Act.

Previous guidance looked for worship of a ‘deity’. This was not in the Act and was the brainchild of John Patten, a short-lived Secretary of State for education and OFSTED has been successfully challenged on this.

A checklist for governors and heads, seemingly produced by the Diocese of Bristol outlines these values:

Democracy

There is little respect left for it after various MPs’ expenses scandals and illegal wars. How do you teach ‘democracy’, not least at a time when citizenship has been abolished from the curriculum?

What about people who challenged democracy? The suffragettes, anti-war protestors, striking miners and secondary pickets? Revolutionary groups in the USSR and South Africa under apartheid?

 The rule of law

Thomas Aquinas (arguably the greatest theologian of all time) regarded it as a sin not to break the law by stealing food if your life was at risk. The gift of life trumps all other laws.

Pacifists broke the law, before their cause was recognised.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer challenged the rule of law in 1930s Germany and was executed in Flossenburg just before the end of World War 2.

 The difference between right and wrong

 Who defines this? What about situation ethics?

 Respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs

 Tolerance is a slippery word and can mean a grudging acceptance. What about tolerance for extremism. There is a contradiction here owing to the sloppy thinking behind this knee-jerk reaction as shown in the document.

Values not included

What happened to the Christian commandment to “love your neighbour”? – warning against making these ‘values’ a narrow test of patriotism, a negative and divisive approach to examine whether somebody is “safe” or “loyal” to the UK.

“Loving your neighbour” includes being prepared to receive from the outsider as demonstrated by the Good Samaritan.

What about the importance of dissent, as shown by anti-slavery campaigners, the suffragettes and the Chartists, who campaigned for political reform in the 19th century; and a “commitment to the common good”.

“British values” should be selected after a broad public debate, and not imposed by the Education Secretary.

Isn’t there a plurality of value systems in the multi-cultural UK?

Tristram Hunt said that “Nicky Morgan clearly does not believe that LGBT rights are British values. They are. Compulsory sex and relationship education, including LGBT rights, in all schools is common sense, not nonsense.

Will children have lessons in moaning about the weather? Will there be exams on the rules of cricket? Will pupils have to demonstrate an ability to glare at people who jump queues while never actually challenging them?

The human rights and relative democracy that we have in Britain are due to millions of ordinary people going out and campaigning for them over centuries. They did so in defiance of the rich and powerful.

Cameron’s deals with the vicious regime of Saudi Arabia, to whom he continues to sell weapons? Or the government’s use of drones in Afghanistan, killing civilians in a way largely indistinguishable from the ‘extremists’ who Gove is so keen to challenge with ‘British values’?

What about ‘telling the truth’ – at a time when many government ministers distort percentages and other facts about people living in poverty and on welfare benefits?

What about opposing bullying? Justice and peace? Caring for others? For the environment?

Relevant sections from South Gloucestershire’s Agreed Syllabus:

valuesRespect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs

Obviously all of it

Rule of law

 KS2 Key Question: Why does a community need rules?

L 3/4 Pupils will identify/ describe the importance of codes of conduct and behaviour for different communities and identify why particular communities have particular rules. They will identify/ describe why rules might be needed and if anorganisation could function without rules.

Key Question: What rules are important to me?

L3 Pupils will identify rules that have an impact on them, e.g. school/class rules.

They will identify the consequences and the responsibilities that removing these rules would bring.

Key Question: How do people show commitment to the values of their faith?

L3 Pupils will begin to identify the impact of religion on the lives of people who have lived by the values of their faith e.g. Ghandi (who broke British law – e.g. making salt, encouraging boycott of trade with Britain)

KS3 Key question: What rules do I live by and what is myview about religious teachings on morality?

L4/5 Pupils will explore their own rules, families’ rules and the values that underlie them, compare and make links between different religions’ moral statements and their own views and behaviour e.g. about food, sharing and charity Langar, rules, making decisions.

Key question: What is the best way to seek to change the world ‘for the better’?

L7/8 Students will compare liberation theology with Engaged Buddhism (e.g. oppression in Burma and Tibet) and Humanism, and make up their own 10 ways to change the world, democracy, the relationship between government, law and one’s own values and when they conflict.

Key question: What is the best way to seek to change the world ‘for the better’?

L7/8 Students will compare liberation theology with Engaged Buddhism (e.g.

oppression in Burma and Tibet) and Humanism, and make up their own 10 ways to change the world, democracy, the relationship between government, law and one’s own values and when they conflict.

Difference between right and wrong

KS3 Key question: How does belief make a difference to individuals?

L5/6 Pupils will consider how people hold beliefs in common and also differ from one another, e.g. IRA and forgiveness; conduct in business, sport, voluntary work, politics, the Third World, and the environment.

Key question: What perspectives do different religions have towards personal and social ethics?

L5 Pupils will show understanding of religious perspectives on issues like addiction, dharma, forgiveness, love, the Golden Rule –Humanism, justice, global inequality, cheating, violence, working for peace, honesty, stewardship and express insights into the significance and value of religion and other world views on human relationships personally, locally and globally.

Post 16 Key Question: Have you got a conscience? Students should reflect on our sense of right and wrong and evaluate the contribution of different faiths to law making, e.g. Students could consider Milgram’s torture experiment, Amnesty International resources or interview a local politician as to beliefs that underpin their views

Key Question: Should you leave your principles at home when you go to work?

Students should evaluate the basis for ethical decision making in the world of work, e.g. Students could consider the moral challenge of working in the arms industry.

Key Question: Whose money is it anyway? Students should explore issues linked to globalisation such as sweatshop labour and international debt and reflect on notions of justice, e.g. Students could participate in the Trading Game

 Democacy

 Key question: What is the best way to seek to change the world ‘for the better’?

L7/8 Students will compare liberation theology with Engaged Buddhism (e.g. oppression in Burma and Tibet) and Humanism, and make up their own 10 ways to change the world, democracy, the relationship between government, law and one’s own values and when they conflict.

Post 16 Key Question: Who says so? Students should consider different perspectives on the origin of secular and religious authority (eg divinely derived v. ruling class v. democratic contract) and consequent impact on lifestyles, e.g. Students could visit the House of Commons, the local council chamber and/ or local law court. They could consider the effects of free access to cyberspace in developing extremism.

Key Question: Will you stand up for their rights? Students should study individuals, peoples or movements involved in the struggle for justice and peace and reflect on what responses they might make in their own lives, e.g. Students could evaluate the history of protest movements, consider the legacy of individuals such as Pastor Niemöller or the treatment of asylum seekers.

 “Loving your neighbour” – not in the OFSTED guidance

KS1: Key Question: What do religious stories teach about friendship and care for others?

 Concern for the environment – not in the OFSTED guidance

KS1: Key Question: What do Creation stories teach about our responsibility for the world?

Post 16: Key Question: I shop, therefore I am? Students should evaluate the basis for ethical decision making in the world of leisure, e.g. Students could consider ethical tourism eg respecting local culture and ecology.

Care for others – not in the OFSTED guidance

KS2: Key question: Can we make a difference to our global community?

L4 Pupils will make links between their own ideas and practical steps that can be taken to make a difference to significant world issues. e.g raising money for charities, fair-trade, carbon footprint. Jeans for Genes, UNICEF, Water Aid, sponsor schemes

Key Question: How do we take responsibility for environment?

L3 Pupils will describe their own values and commitments and ways in which they might take responsibility for their immediate and wider environment e.g . recycling, a schools development project.

Key Question: How do people of faith and others respond to the needs of people in other parts of the world?

L4Pupils will research and describe the work of organisations, charities and individuals that try to redistribute the world’s resources more fairly and the practical ways that they might do this e.g. Fair Trade organisations, Bishopston Trading, OXFAM, Kibbutz workers, the Red Crescent. They will make links between people’s beliefs and the practical ways they seek to help others.

Post 16: Key Question: What’s it got to do with me? Students should reflect upon their own attitudes and values and evaluate those of others, e.g. Students could consider the life choices and decision making process that someone who is poor or homeless or addicted faces daily and the work of charitable agencies to empower them.

Justice and peace – not in the OFSTED guidance

KS2 Key Question: What can we learn from people with religious commitment, to world peace / justice / reconciliation?

L4/ 5 Pupils will describe and explain the actions of people commtted to world peace and the part commitment makes in their own lives and experiences. They will describe what is so important to them that they would be prepared to make a sacrifice of time, money and possessions ,eg St. Francis, John Laing (the builder), Eddie Stobart (the haulage contractor), Mahatma Ghandi, Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens), Anne Frank

KS3 Key question: How do people respond to religious teaching about morality and ethics?

L5 Pupils will make informed responses to the ways people demonstrate commitment to the values of their religion e.g. stewardship, conflict and peace, justice, wealth.

Key question: Why do people disagree about social and moral issues?

KS4 Key question: How do different views affect people’s lives?

L7 Students will evaluate the responses of different people to teachings about ….. how different Christians responded to events in Nazi Germany, pacifism, Just War, jihad

Key question: What is the best way to seek to change the world ‘for the better’?

L7/8 Students will compare liberation theology with Engaged Buddhism (e.g.

oppression in Burma and Tibet) and Humanism, and make up their own 10 ways to change the world, democracy, the relationship between government, law and one’s own values and when they conflict.

Post 16: Key Question: Will you stand up for their rights? Students should study individuals, peoples or movements involved in the struggle for justice and peace and reflect on what responses they might make in their own lives, e.g. Students could evaluate the history of protest movements, consider the legacy of individuals such as Pastor Niemöller or the treatment of asylum seekers.

See also https://layreadersbookreviews.wordpress.com/2015/07/14/prevent-duty-guidance-for-england-and-wales-hm-government-or-prevent-strategy-misguided-islamophobic/

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