Promoting and teaching British values

Teaching British Values

As a part of the The Prevent strategy, schools should promote and be teaching British values, which the DFE state to be of “democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs” DFE page 5. According to the DfE, the British values are:

  • Democracy
  • The rule of law
  • Individual liberty
  • Mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs


Through teaching British values (democracy) to students an understanding of how citizens can influence decision-making through the democratic process will be developed. This is often delivered through the strong student leadership such as a student voice/ council, ensuring that students have full involvement of the democratic process of electing representatives and the the student council supports the decision making processes in school.

The rule of law

Schools should teach students an appreciation that living under the rule of law protects individual citizens and is essential for their wellbeing and safety. This is often achieved through behaviour models that promote student participation, ensuring that students welcome the benefits of rules in their learning environment. Students should also develop an understanding that there is a separation of power between the executive and the judiciary, and that while some public bodies such as the police and the army can be held to account through Parliament, others such as the courts maintain independence.

Individual liberty

Through SMSC, the British value of individual liberty should promote understanding that the freedom to choose and hold other faiths and beliefs is protected in law. Students should be encouraged to explore their own cultures and beliefs and develop understanding and respect of those of others.

Mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs

Through teaching British values, students should have an acceptance that other people having 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. They should also have an understanding of the importance of identifying and combatting discrimination. This is often developed through SMSC and PSHE lessons involving education on a range of faiths and belief, with a range of role playing activities to enhance understanding of different faiths and beliefs.

Teaching right from wrong

The way of living has changed significantly and continues to evolve rapidly. Children, as well as adults, are now exposed to a wide range of media. Even with the best parental locks, children will become exposed to sensitive material at an age which we may preferred them to remain unexposed. Families no longer have the sole responsibility instilling a sense of morality in the next generation, it is also the responsibility of educators. As educators, we must ensure that children become fully rounded members of society who treat others with respect and tolerance, regardless of background as outlined in the November 2014 DfE press release. One of the greatest qualities of Britain is the cultural diversity across the country. It is essential that teachers inspire understanding of the significance of our democratic society and embrace cultural differences through teaching British values.

British values Best practice

The best schools form a school council or student voice, with elected representatives from a variety of ages and backgrounds, who meet regularly as a group and with key senior leadership staff to influence school decisions.

In addition, provision of specific learning activities to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of democracy should be planned. Lessons also provide opportunities for students to apply their understanding of democracy and British values by defending and questioning points of view. Lessons are popularly extended as an extracurricular activity. The DfE offer detailed guidance on how British values should be promoted as a part of SMSC development and state that the fundamental British values are democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs. These should be promoted through SMSC.

Thinking big

The world is a smaller place. The youth of today live within a United Nations government in addition to the UK government. Teachers are educating students to think bigger. Sequences of lessons are planned to explore the impact of decisions on other countries around the world without being limited to our own. Dedicated planning and teaching British values is imperative as is the monitoring and tracking of this as a part of SMSC. To improve the quality of resources for promoting British values as a part of SMSC, many schools opt to deliver lessons using high quality resources from external providers to ensure that their students development needs are properly met and British values are delivered.  

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