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10 June, 2014

'British values' already have a place in the school curriculum

Michael Gove may remember Gordon Brown adding 'British values' to the citizenship curriculum in 2008, to address issues of diversity and integration.

Unfortunately, Mr Gove emasculated the same theme in his curriculum review and has turned a blind eye to the delivery of citizenship, the natural home for 'inculcating British values in the curriculum', as Mr Cameron puts it.

Academies and Free Schools (roughly half our secondary schools) can choose not to teach the subject at all, and routine Ofsted school inspections do not review it. As a consequence, its omission goes overlooked in state schools.

It was noticeable, therefore, that Ofsted came down heavily in judging that one recently-demoted Birmingham Academy (Park View) had 'not taught citizenship well enough'.

This snap judgement will surprise teachers who have got used to Gove's blind eye. The spotlight was thrown onto citizenship because alarm bells rang in Whitehall; the failure to deliver the subject was then picked up when the school was re-inspected under the 'Trojan Horse' investigation.

This illustrates the problem: inspection of a school's delivery will only occur when it is already too late.

This should be reviewed immediately. Our schools need clarity that citizenship on the National Curriculum must be delivered effectively and will be inspected routinely (sometimes with no notice) as part of a broad and balanced curriculum.

This will go some way to assure citizens that democratic values will be comprehended by the British population.

This letter was sent to the national media from Andy Thornton, Citizenship Foundation CEO, and Andrew Phillips (Lord Phillips of Sudbury), Citizenship Foundation founder and President.

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