PaJeS Blog

Rule Britannia!

Posted by Simon Goulden - 01 Jul 2014

We cannot but be aware of the recent and, indeed, ongoing issues surrounding some community schools (not faith based schools) in Birmingham and elsewhere, which would appear to be promoting values which are ‘not British’. That, by extension, begs the question: “what exactly are British values?”

This debate is not new and has been exercising better minds than mine for many years. Indeed, back in 2006, I was asked to address a House of Commons Select Committee on citizenship education and the role of faith schools. This is part of my submission to the Select Committee:

The Select Committee wanted to know what faith schools were doing to examine the relationship between citizenship education and the current debate about identity and Britishness.  To the Jewish community, this is simply not an issue.  Chief Rabbi Sacks wrote: “When thinking about citizenship, never forget about the very close connection between giving and belonging.  A house in which I take refuge is one where I am a guest.  A house that I help to build is one that I can call mine.  Social inclusion is a concept that cannot be fully translated into the language of rights.  It is essentially related to the idea of participation.  If I can say “I helped to make this” then I can say “I belong”.”  He further wrote: “Schools are not themselves independent variables.  They cannot in and of themselves be agents of change.  The Jewish community was always built around a tripartite structure: the home, the synagogue, the school – coined today as the reciprocal support of schools, families and communities.  If that is missing, schools cannot do what we ask them to do, and if they fail to do it, that is not because they have failed us, but because we have failed them.”   

At the time, I thought that I spoke quite well and, rereading what I wrote with eight years hindsight, I still do, but ‘plus ca change’, as they say, so here we are with the publication, just last week, of a consultation by the Department for Education, which is proposing to replace the Education (Independent School Standards) (England) Regulations 2010, as amended, to help raise standards in independent schools in England. This, they claim, is part of the wider programme of regulatory reform for independent schools. You can find out the details by logging on to: 
https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/proposed-new-independent-school-standards

 

 

 
 
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