Militant Teachers Demand Schools Stop Promoting ‘British Values’ as It Makes Children from Other Cultures Feel Inferior
Eleanor Harding, Daily Mail, March 28, 2016
Teachers are demanding that schools stop promoting ‘fundamental British values’ over claims it could make children think other cultures are inferior.
The National Union of Teachers said telling children about the country’s democracy, law and traditions could encourage ‘cultural supremacy’ and urged a new focus on ‘international human rights’ instead.
Under government guidelines, which are aimed at tackling extremism in the wake of the Trojan Horse scandal, children must be taught about being a British citizen as well as tolerance other faiths and lifestyles.
However, union leaders said the term was demeaning to other cultures ‘particularly in the context of multicultural schools and the wider picture of migration’.
Delegates passed a motion in favour of campaigning to scrap it during the NUT annual conference in Brighton today.
Christopher Denson, an NUT representative from Coventry, said: ‘We need to fight to reject this notion of British values, to fight for notions of human values and human rights.
‘We have to stand together across communities to bring down barriers, bring down borders, to say no to Islamophobia, no to anti-Semitism, no to fascism and any form of racism.’
The motion said that migrants make a ‘huge economic, political and social contribution’ to the country and that public services and businesses would ‘face severe difficulties’ without them.
It criticised the government for only taking in a ‘minute fraction’ of refugees and vowed to campaign for ‘policies that welcome’ them to the country.
The union agreed to ‘gather and collate’ teaching materials on migrants and refugees for members to use in classrooms from now on.
Mr Denson said he disliked using the term ‘fundamental British values’ in his classroom when many of his pupils had ancestry in countries which had encountered British colonialism.
He said: ‘The inherent cultural supremacism in that term is both unnecessary and unacceptable.
‘And seen with the Prevent agenda, it belies the most thinly veiled racism and a conscious effort to divide communities.’
He added: ‘It’s our duty to push real anti-racist work in all schools. And that doesn’t mean talk of tolerating other’s views, but genuine, inclusive anti-racist work.’
He said he had requested a week of themed assemblies every year in his school, with topics including apartheid and the rise of Islamophobia ‘in the context of anti-Semitism in the 1930s’.
‘This year we focussed on the migrant crisis in Calais, the Mediterranean and beyond,’ he added.
‘We organised a politics day for Year 8s [aged 12 to 13] in the week before Easter.
‘They had a day to form a political party in their tutor groups to come up with a manifesto, film a broadcast, and make banners and take part in a debate.
‘Apart from the quality of the work, the other thing that really made my proud was that every single tutor group had as a policy, ‘refugees welcome, open the borders’.
‘We need to be pushing at every level for anti-racism to be in the core curriculum for every child.’
Many of the activists at the conference said they had been to migrant camps over the channel to take food and provisions.
Christine Blower, general secretary of the NUT said: ‘Schools and teachers play a key role in welcoming migrant and refugee children and young people to this country, and supporting their progress within schools.
‘The NUT condemns the Government’s inadequate response to the current migrant situation, which has exacerbated the suffering for so many, including school-age children and young people.
‘The NUT has produced a guide to Welcoming Refugee Children to your School and has a dedicated section on its website for teaching resources which have been provided by teachers for teachers, on the issue.
‘The NUT will continue to work with Show Racism the Red Card, Hope Not Hate and others, to campaign for Government policies that welcome migrants and refugees to this country. The NUT will also continue to press for anti-racism work to be enshrined within the curriculum of all schools.’
The requirement on schools to teach fundamental British values was introduced in 2014 in a bid to crack down on extremism in schools.
It followed the Trojan Horse scandal, in which state schools in Birmingham were infiltrated by hardliners who tried to impose an Islamic agenda.
Ofsted, the schools regulator, has been penalising schools which do not sufficiently show that they are promoting British values.
Chris McGovern, of the Campaign for Real Education, said: ‘Teachers should not be playing the role of fifth columnists in the ideological war currently being fought over our national identity and our national sovereignty.
‘Teaching children that British values are part of “cultural supremacism” will, at best, make them feel guilty about being British and, at worst, radicalise them in order to ‘make up’ for the sins of their fathers.
‘If one wishes to destroy a nation and build a “brave new world” you begin by indoctrinating and brainwashing the children.
‘This process of ‘re-education’ has started some years ago in our schools and we are, now, seeing its consequences in the suppression of free speech on our university campuses.
‘The notion of ‘value relativism’–that all views are equally valid–has reached saturation point in our schools.
‘In many classrooms this has led to the views of terrorists being given equal weigh to those of the victim of terrorism. Against this background the latest motions from the NUT come as no surprise, at all.’
The Department for Education has been contacted for comment.