Last reviewed on 26 August 2021
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Read a summary of your school's duty to actively promote British values and governors' role in monitoring provision. Download our list of questions to ask school leaders to help you do this.

Your school's duties

Schools are required to promote the spiritual, moral, social and cultural (SMSC) development of their pupils. As part of this, your school should actively promote the fundamental British values of:

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

This is set out in the Department for Education's guidance on promoting British values in maintained schools and part 2 of The Education (Independent School Standards) Regulations 2014 for academies and independent schools.

Knowledge and understanding expected of pupils

As a result of your promotion of British values, your pupils are expected to gain: 

  • An understanding of how citizens can influence decision-making through the democratic process
  • An appreciation that living under the rule of law protects individual citizens and is essential for their wellbeing and safety
  • 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
  • An understanding that the freedom to choose and hold other faiths and beliefs is protected in law
  • 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
  • An understanding of the importance of identifying and combating discrimination

This is outlined in pages 5 and 6 of the DfE guidance for maintained schools, and pages 6 and 7 of the DfE's advice for academies and independent schools on improving SMSC development.

Your responsibilities

As a board, you should make sure that the fundamental British values are reflected in your ethos and implemented effectively in your school's policy and practice.

You must take "swift action" to suspend anyone from office that acts to undermine these values. This may include considering whether to remove an individual from office if they act in this manner.

Ofsted inspectors will also consider how well your school promotes British values when making its judgement on the effectiveness of leadership and management

This is outlined in sections 2.2 and 4.1.2 of the Governance Handbook, and in paragraph 152 of the School Inspection Handbook.

Use our questions to help you monitor provision

You can use these to question senior leaders during:

  • Full governing board meetings
  • Committee meetings
  • School visits

You may need to adapt them to reflect your school's context. 

How your school can promote British values

  • Include age-appropriate material in the curriculum on the strengths, advantages and disadvantages of democracy, and how democracy and the law works in Britain in comparison to other forms of government in other countries
  • Make sure that all pupils within the school have a voice that is listened to
  • Demonstrate how democracy works through actively promoting democratic processes, such as an elected school council
  • Organise visits to local councils, Parliament and places of worship, and encourage contact with those in political or local office
  • Use opportunities such as general or local elections to hold mock elections to teach pupils how to argue and defend points of view
  • Use teaching resources from a wide variety of sources to help pupils understand a range of faiths
  • Consider the role of extra-curricular activities, including any run directly by pupils, in promoting fundamental British values

These are suggested in the DfE's guidance for maintained schools, academies and independent schools. This list is not exhaustive.

Read advice from 2 of our experts on how to promote British values in different subjects in another article. 

Examples of practice in schools 

  • Nether Kellet Primary School has outlined the importance of rights and responsibilities within its behaviour policy
  • Westacre Middle School reinforces the fundamental British values by holding school council elections, arranging visits from the police and fire service, and implementing an anti-bullying culture
  • Washingborough Academy delivers 'values education' which reflect the fundamental British values. Its values based curriculum is based around 22 core values that are explicitly taught over a 2-year period
  • Queen Elizabeth High School promotes British values through its student council, assemblies, and by participating in Global Education Day