Fundamental British Values: Prevent Strategy Lesson Plans for Teachers

January 10, 2017
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The Prevent Strategy places a mandatory duty on teachers, lecturers, and childcare providers to instil the fundamental British values of democracy, individual liberty, the rule of law, and respect and tolerance.

This guide explains what these values mean and offers ways to incorporate them into everyday life through lessons and special events. 

What are the Fundamental British Values?

“Fundamental British values” are a set of social attitudes thought to maintain social cohesion and equality. These values are:

  • Democracy.
  • The rule of law.
  • Individual liberty.
  • Mutual respect and tolerance.

A teacher discussing British values with students

British Values Explained

Democracy describes our national electoral system and the skills needed to participate in it successfully. Democracy relies on listening to the needs of everyone and adapting a decision until the vast majority agree. Not every need and not every person can be accommodated all the time. The democratic process requires rigorous thinking, perspective-taking, patience, and understanding.

Individual liberty is the right of British citizens to make choices regarding the elements of their life that are outside of government control. This refers to freedom of speech and the right to make choices about our education, food, beliefs, opinions, work, family, etc.

The rule of law refers to creating an attitude of accountability and respect towards the laws and rules of institutions and nation-states.

Mutual respect and tolerance is an attitude that recognises and respects the individual liberty of others – even if their choices, lifestyle and beliefs are ones you don’t agree with or like.

Teaching British Values in the Classroom

A lot of what teachers do every day develops so-called British values. Having rules at school, giving students choices, discussing huge social issues, and socialising with diverse ranges of the population establishes the skills needed to participate and integrate into British life.

Promoting Democracy in the Classroom

To prepare students for future elections and democratic processes, it’s essential you teach students how to engage successfully with democracy.

Create a democratic classroom culture. Students of all ages are eager to get involved in politics when you pose the right questions, demonstrate how politics affects them, and create an open-minded and inclusive environment. This has been discussed before in another article on how to discuss controversial topics, how to manage heated moments, and how to create an inclusive classroom culture. If you create the kind of classroom where everyone – no matter what their view – feels protected and valued you can combat isolation.

Hold a mock school election. At Rossett School in Harrogate, a history teacher organised a whole school mock general election and mock EU referendum to get students active within the democratic process. You could do this too. Mirror contemporary events like elections and referendums.

Student in mock school election

Teaching Children about Individual Liberty

Individual liberty is all about the choices we make that are outside of government remit.

Use Religious Studies to discuss identity. Clothing is a huge part of identity and there are plenty of misconceptions about religious dress. For example, not all Muslim women choose to wear religious clothing like a headscarf; it really is a choice. So no matter what someone is wearing, whether it’s a headscarf, crucifix, Star of David, niqab or burqa, teach students that it isn’t their place to comment.

Let students lead their own tactile projects. Designing something allows students to make choices, think for themselves, and develop independence. A clock building technology project allows students to design a product to their own taste and they’ll soon discover that something they like is not someone else’s taste.

A street sign in Brick Lane, London showing multiple cultural influences

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Teaching the Rule of Law

This is central to every child’s education. It’s about teaching children why we have laws and rules in organisations, at home, and at a national level – and, it’s about teaching children, adolescents, and young adults that they have a central role to play in deciding and changing the laws that govern them.

Play games with rules. Playing games is a simple way to teach children about rules and accountability. Every child has experienced how unfair it feels when someone breaks those rules and so playing games is a natural way to teach respect for fair laws that are intended to create equality.

Discuss political movements. Plan a lesson on the civil rights movement, the feminist movement, and the neurodiversity movement. These are groups who have changed and continued to change the laws that we live by. Teaching the intricacies of these movements can show students how movements have used democratic processes to affect the rule of law.

Policemen in central london

Encouraging Mutual Respect & Tolerance

In every society, there are going to be those who are intolerant. However, every education professional can teach children to be brave enough to speak up against intolerance when they see it and to respect individual difference.

Use books to encourage tolerance. In classes that encourage perspective-taking like English and Drama, use plays and books that help children think through issues on immigration and ethnic identity. Reading fiction has even been proven to encourage empathy in children.

Celebrate all festivals. Teach children about festivals and holidays such as Diwali, Holi, Eid, Christmas, Chinese New Year, and Hanukkah. Keep a festival calendar as part of your lesson planning, so you know what’s going on when!

Further Resources