Embedding values Lecture


This chapter considers the importance of a values-based education. As the chapter shows, there have been several complementary initiatives over time to broaden the scope of the impact of schools and college experience by integrating and underpinning certain sets of values considered to be relevant to the lives and experiences of children and young people in 21st century Britain. These values are concerned with the upholding of values concerned with equality and diversity, with key skills, with the prevention of extremism, and with the inculcation of British values associated with the primacy of the rule of law, and of moral and citizenship responsibilities of all individuals in a democratic society.

The first section of the chapter defines and explores the above-mentioned sets of values in more detail, and discusses their relevance in contemporary education as appropriate. The chapter then moves to consider the embedding of these values into educational experiences, both from an abstract and from an applied perspective. Allied to this is a final section where the necessity of the embedding of appropriate values into educational experiences is analysed.

Each of the three sections is accompanied by a reflective element which invites you to consider your own reactions and feelings related to that section of chapter input. Values in education can be an emotive and politicised aspect of education, and a full and engaged consideration of the issues, and of the perspectives of learners towards them, is only appropriate. Further information on resources related to values in education, and to governmental and other documentation written to support educationalists in this area, may be found in the references list which accompanies the chapter.

Learning objectives for this chapter

By the end of this chapter, we would like you to be able to:

  • Define and exemplify SMSC values, equality and diversity, and British values in a UK education context
  • Consider the place of anti-extremism initiatives such as the Prevent strategy
  • Reflect on the worth of embedding values into subject-based education
  • Appreciate the role and mission of education in the development of an open, democratic, equal, and progressive society

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Explaining the concept of each value (equality, diversity, key skills, 'British values')

This section defines and examines each of the four sets of values introduced above. As one might imagine, to some degree there is overlap between some of these areas, and as such it is useful to consider cross-referencing among the subsections below to get a fuller picture of the values terrain which this chapter explores. This chapter may be thought of as an exploded diagram, analysing separately a range of concepts which are interrelated, both in meaning and in their application in education.


A key initialism when discussing values in contemporary education is SMSC, which stands for Spiritual, Moral, Social, and Cultural values (Department for Education, 2014). These components are defined by Ofsted in their schools' inspection handbook documentation in the following terms (Ofsted, 2016):

Spiritual development: learners' spiritual development is indicated by

  • their capacity for reflection on their own beliefs, their attitude and perspective towards human life, and their regard for the religion, feelings, and perceptions of others
  • their positive attitude towards learning about themselves and others, and their fascination with the world around them
  • their application of creative and imaginative forces in learning, and their capacity and willingness to be reflective

Moral development: learners' moral development is indicated by

  • their ability to understand right and wrong, and to reference this to their own lives, to understand where legal boundaries exist, and so respect civil and criminal law
  • their appreciation of the consequences of actions and behaviour
  • their capacity to investigate and explore moral and ethical arguments, and an ability to take into consideration the views of others on such issues

Social development: learners' social development is indicated by

  • their using social skills in a variety of contexts, including socialising with other learners, including those from different cultural, religious and socio-economic backgrounds
  • their capacity to engage meaningfully in community and social settings, such as in volunteering, and being able to both resolve disagreements and work well in co-operative contexts
  • their positive and accepting engagement with central aspects of British democratic values, with the idea of the rule of law, of concepts such as individual liberty, and of mutual tolerance of those from different belief systems, lifestyles and religions
  • their ability to demonstrate positive attitudes which will serve them well in making a valid contribution to contemporary British life

Cultural development: learners' cultural development is indicated by

  • their appreciation of the range and diversity of cultural influences that have shaped other people's heritage, as well as upon their own background and culture
  • an appreciation of cultural diversity as a positive aspect of contemporary British life
  • an understanding of the British representative parliamentary democracy, and the ways it has informed the development of the nation, both in the past and in the present day
  • their engagement with sports, arts, music, and wider cultural opportunities
  • their respect for diversity and their positive engagement with cultural and faith groups outside of their own, as well as with diversity as expressed in socio-economic, faith, and ethnicity terms, in their locality, within Britain, and worldwide.

SMSC is a current (2016) priority area for schools' inspection under Ofsted. There is more guidance on this below in the section on the importance of embedding of certain values.


A working definition might be that equality is the enjoyment and promotion of equal rights, and being equal to others, and so being treated with the same respect and importance as others, and being deserving of the same treatment. 'Equality' is an updated term from its predecessor, 'equal opportunities'; equality has it legal basis in the 2010 Equality Act, which brought together multiple separate pieces of equality-related legislation into a single Act, with corresponding duties being placed upon public bodies, such as schools, to uphold.

The Equality Act 2010 consolidated, and to some extent simplified, already-existing legislation; schools cannot unlawfully discriminate against pupils because of their sex, race, disability, religion or belief, or their sexual orientation. New protections were extended in 2010 to pupils who are pregnant or who have recently given birth, and to those undergoing gender reassignment. The 2010 legislation extended the obligation on schools to provide support aids and services to disabled students. Previously-existing exemptions were retained, such as curriculum content, collective worship and admissions policies to faith and to single-sex schools.

The elements against which it is unlawful for a school to discriminate against are referred to as 'protected characteristics'. In addition, it is unlawful to discriminate against a pupil because of their associations (because of their friends, or family, for example). It is also unlawful to discriminate against someone because of a perception of a protected characteristic, even if the discriminating person is mistaken.

The 2010 Act goes on to outline provisions at four levels of unlawful behaviour:

  • direct discrimination (treating someone less favourably because of a protected characteristic)
  • indirect discrimination (continuing a way of acting or behaving which tends to put a person or group at a disadvantage because of their protected characteristic)
  • harassment (unwanted conduct intended to be humiliating or offensive which pertains to a protected characteristic)
  • victimisation (treating someone differently because of something they have done which pertains to the Act, such as making a complaint against unfair treatment relevant to a protected characteristic).

Schools, as public bodies, fall within the remit of the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) - sometimes termed the 'general duty - introduced by the 2010 Act, and which demands certain obligations. In the execution of their functions, public bodies are required to have due regard in respect of the need to:

  • eliminate discrimination and other conduct prohibited by the Act
  • advance equality of opportunity between those with a protected characteristic and those who do not share it
  • promote good relations across all characteristics, and between those who do and those who do not share one

Department for Education guidance suggests that for schools, this means that decisions and policies should be assessed for potential implications which might contravene the PSED and the Act (Department for Education, 2014). The PSED should be integrated into all school functions, and have that integration assessed regularly and analytically. Schools may not delegate these responsibilities to outside parties (such as consultants or other contractees), but have the responsibility themselves to ensure that their obligations and duties under the act are upheld. DfE guidance suggests also that schools devise an equality impact assessment tool, and that the tool and its use and findings are publicly assessable for scrutiny and oversight (Department for Education, 2014).

From the standpoint of the individual educator, it is good practice to consider all of one's own resources, worksheets, lecture notes, classroom displays and other teaching tools from an equality perspective. Do your resources, for example, reflect an equal, non-judgemental and open society?


Where equality is concerned with the equal enjoyment of legal rights, and the protection of that equality through legislation and devices such as the Public Sector Equality Duty, diversity is concerned with valuing and respecting the differences that individuals and groups may have. Diversity may relate to the protected characteristics outlined in the Equality Act 2010, though may have other attributes too (secular vegetarianism and veganism, for example).

Where learners do not experience diversity in their own lives, or in their own schools, it is important to prepare them for life in a diverse society; both formal teaching and the wider life of the school should work towards making that preparation seamless and natural. This can mean initiatives and activities which foster diversity, present difference as opportunity, and treat people's individuality - and their expressions of their personal and their cultural and other identities - in respectful and celebratory terms.

Working in a diversity-oriented way may mean maintaining community links and having meaningful exchanges with cultural groups and other expressions of the identities relevant to the locality served by the school in question. One Scottish initiative, which deals with religious sectarianism amongst other things, posits an approach which focuses on four interrelated vectors as part of their Curriculum for Excellence (Learning and Teaching Scotland, 2013). The four are:

  • the ethos and the life of the school, with young people working together in classes to write an anti-sectarian charter for their schools
  • curriculum subject areas, with anti-sectarian elements introduced into religious education, English studies, and social sciences
  • interdisciplinary learning, with diversity topic areas the basis of tutorial and related activities
  • opportunities for personal achievement, with secondary learners presenting to primary school children on anti-sectarian topics.  

Community cohesion agendas, such as might be addressed by the anti-sectarian work exemplified above, were introduced by Act of Parliament in 2006, with the passing of the Education and Inspections Act of that year. The Act imposed a duty to promote community cohesion on schools. By 'community cohesion', the Act and its associated guidance refers to the working towards a UK society where there is a sense of belonging for all communities, a common vision of the country as progressive and mutually-supportive, and where life opportunities for all are supported by equality and diversity drives. The common vision referred to an understanding that while individual and group differences remain, and are to be celebrated and encouraged, there is also a sense in which all should have commonality in terms of aspects of national identity and of a shared sense of experience with their fellows.

A sense of belonging is to be inculcated, both in that everyone should know their rights and responsibilities toward each other in civil society, and that institutional arrangements (police, the legal system as examples) are trusted, and that the oversight of such institutions is to be respected. Life opportunities should be supported by schools; "by creating and enabling every child and young person to achieve their potential, schools make a significant contribution to long term community cohesion" (Department of Children, Schools, and Families, 2007, p.4). Barriers to community cohesion have been identified in this guidance document as including relationships towards immigrant communities, perceptions of bias in services provision towards some communities over others, lack of public facilities, crime and perceptions of those responsible for crime, and a general lack of community spirit; these perceptions indicate cares which schools may focus on from a community cohesion perspective.

Community can be conceptualised at a series of levels: the school as a community (its pupils, their parents and families, staff and governors, community users of school facilities); the community within which the school is sited (its geographical location and the communities who live and work there, including those outside the catchment area of the school); and community in the senses of the UK, and of world-wide links (as European Union and/or global citizens, for example). Other sorts of communities may be supported, such as clusters of schools in a town or city, or those within the same Academy chain.

Within schools, there may be communities of pupils united in respect of faith, background, sexual identity and other protected characteristics, though the focus of the community cohesion duty is of fostering unity, rather than celebrating difference. That is not to say that differing duties conflict with each other; a school may have project or club-based approached which bring together, for example, LGBT learners in respect of supporting diversity, and also have LGBT strands within wider community cohesion work. Further discussion of ways in which diversity and community cohesion ideas might be embedded into the curriculum, and into the wider life of the school, are discussed in the sections which follow.

Key skills

'Key skills' is a catch-all term which has been used over time to characterise a series of initiatives to boost learners' literacy, numeracy, information technology, and other competencies, usually in a work-related context. Terms have varied over time and geography; the most common terms used at the time of writing (2016) are 'functional skills' and 'core skills'.

Underpinning the idea of key or functional skills is the centrality of all learners having not only qualifications in literacy, numeracy, and in ICT, but them possessing real-world abilities to be numerate, literate and able to use a range of IT applications in adult life and work-related applications.

These subject areas are discussed in more detail in Chapter 9. These skills have some relevance here, not least because they may provide opportunities in which to investigate questions of diversity, equality, and community cohesion and the like in a schoolwork context. More than this, they indicate the responsibilities of the school beyond the delivery of a subject-specific education towards contributing to the development of children and young people as active, engaged and useful members of society, who are equipped with the relevant contextual skills to take a full part in life and work.

British values

Section 78 of the Education Act 2002 relates to the requirement of schools to promote, as part of a broad and balanced curriculum, to promote the SMSC development of their pupils; aligned with this is a requirement to actively promote British values in schools. These values include democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, the mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs; DfE guidance suggests that by promotion of such British values, schools can demonstrate their commitment to embedding SMSC in education (Department for Education, 2014).

The advocacy of such values also means that positions oppositional to them should be challenged. Furthermore, part of the duty to uphold public trust in schools, and for teachers to hold high professional standards with respect to ethical and behavioural standards is given to include the upholding of British values, and opposing sentiments which would seek to disparage or otherwise undermine them.

Pupils are expected to develop knowledge and understanding of several aspects of British civil and political society:

  • the influence citizens may operate through engaging in democratic processes
  • respect for the rule of law, and the protections it offers citizens for their safety and well-being
  • an understanding of the separation of powers between government and the judicial system, and of the independence of the law courts from parliamentary interference
  • an appreciation of the freedoms and legal protections associated with having and choosing one's own faith
  • accepting that others may hold their own faiths and beliefs, and that such difference (or absence of faith/belief) is to be accepted and tolerated, and not to be the subject of prejudice or discrimination
  • an appreciation if the importance of recognizing and in standing up to discrimination

Working to uphold such values may occur naturally in the curriculum and in wider school engagements; part of the duty here is to record and to celebrate the good work which is already being done, rather than to necessarily create a separate an artificially-inserted set of moral and political imperatives into teaching.

The Prevent duty

The 2015 Counter-Terrorism and Security Act placed a duty on public bodies in respect of their responsibilities in working to prevent (hence the name) people from becoming attracted to and involved in extremist terrorism. To contextualise this duty to the education sector, guidance has been issued so that school management, governing bodies, and those working in pupil referral units and in registered childcare settings can make appropriate judgments (Department for Education, 2015). We discussed the Prevent duty in Module 2, Chapter 3, but will recap this here. The Prevent duty is of relevance to the member of staff with safeguarding responsibilities, though its concerns will naturally have a potential impact on all staff members. The Duty applies at all levels of education, from preschool through to FE colleges and 16-19 academies.

The Prevent duty is intended to support education and childcare providers in meeting their obligations in making an active consideration of the protection from radicalisation they can offer children and young adults. There are four principal themes associated with the guidance. These are discussed in turn below.

  1. Risk assessment

Providers must risk assess against extremism and the potential for children to be exposed to radical ideas which form part of terrorist ideologies. Such processes may integrate with existing safeguarding practices being undertaken within the setting. Risk assessments should take into consideration the locality and other relevant contexts of the setting and so make assessments in general terms, as well as at the level of the individual pupil. Where relevant, there are reporting protocols to follow, which integrate with existing safeguard procedures. In England and Wales, for example, the relevant programme is named Channel, and is specifically charged with protecting those vulnerable to terrorist ideologies and indoctrination into such belief systems (Home Office, 2015). Samples of risk assessment templates may be found online; a link to one such template is included in the references list at the end of this chapter (Prevent for FE and Training, 2015).

  1. Working in partnership

Partnership working is considered vital to effective anti-indoctrination activity. The guidance draws on existing partnership agreements for safeguarding; Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs) are of relevance here, as are the local authority Prevent officers which some boroughs employ, as are the police and other community organisations. Partnership working should extend to families also; family members may well be best place to raise concerns or ask for support where a young person's vulnerability to extremism is concerned.

  1. Staff training

A Home Office training programme - WRAP, which stands for Workshop to Raise Awareness of Prevent - has been devised, and there is an ongoing programme to roll out training, principally to safeguarding professionals, so that accredited WRAP training facilitators are more widely available. Government guidance is that at least one staff member per setting has the full training, and is then given the requisite support to cascade this information to colleagues through internal continual professional development events (Department for Education, 2015).

  1. IT policies

Schools and other educational settings should ensure that appropriate internet filtering is in place so that pupils cannot access extremist or terrorist sympathiser material online while at school. More generally, ICT education, and other subjects as appropriate, should work to encourage safe and responsible internet use, which should include an awareness and avoidance of extremist material.

The Prevent duty is concerned with building barriers to radicalisation; schools should be safe zones where contemporary issues can be debated, and where young people can understand for themselves the dangers to civil society represented by terrorism and extremism. The Duty guidance suggests that there are opportunities allied to the more general responsibility towards the promotion of British values which lend themselves to focused discussion of these topic areas, and of exploration of their relevance to contemporary UK life.

It should be acknowledged that the Prevent duty is not uncontroversial. Critics assert that there is the potential to demonise or essentialise some sectors of the community through misuse of the Duty; others see a civil rights issue; others still observe that the Duty puts teachers in an uncomfortable position of surveilling their learners for extremist political or criminal potential rather than supporting them in their educational endeavours (Khaleeli, 2015). As with many aspects of being a teacher, the Duty, and the geopolitical contexts (following most notably 9/11 in the USA, and the London 2005 bombings in the UK) which have given rise to it, offer opportunities to consider one's personal position towards this aspect of education, and the complexity of the relationships and obligations which come with being an educator.

This section has covered a lot of information, and has detailed several linking and complementary initiatives. Take time to go back through the section and clarify aspects of the input if that is useful to you before working through the reflective exercises.

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Think of your own childhood education. What values were supported and upheld, and what values were challenged as being oppositional to civil society?

What do you consider to be the responsibilities of the teacher beyond those related to subject-based education and the support of children and young people's learning? How does your position correlate with the kinds of values being promoted in these initiatives outlined above?

To what extent is your teaching, or your approach to education, informed by diversity and equality agenda, by mutual respect and community cohesion? To what extent is it not?

Some subjects might lend themselves more organically to referring to these kinds of values being explored in this chapter than others. What subjects might pose more of an issue? And how might a teacher creatively and organically overcome such issues to present - where relevant- material which is informed by these values positions?

Look at the mission statement and related documentation for your setting, and for others in your locality vis online searches. Look at primary, secondary, and further education settings. To what extent are the settings' values communicated effectively? Are these simply slogans, or do they promise a moral and ethical dimension to these settings?

What is 'embedding' and how can we achieve this?

Embedding in this context means to integrate seamlessly into the ordinary taught curriculum. Values-based educational content is not to be treated as an add-on, or only to be discussed in isolation from subject-based teaching and learning, but instead needs to be incorporated into everyday lessons and into the wider ordinary life of the school.

Learners of all ages are sensitive to when a topic is not being treated seriously, or if it being delivered artificially or out of a sense of obligation; a box-ticking approach to values in education does the subject and the learners a disservice, and goes against making such input meaningful and relevant to learners. Though there may be occasions when it is relevant, and perhaps even necessary to deliver, for example, equality and diversity-relevant material as a stand-alone aspect of a tutorial or similar session, the engaged and proactive educator will work to ensure that appropriate values are an integral and natural part of lessons and their supporting materials.

This may already be being done; an inventory of session materials, resources, and notes will give an indication of where embedding is occurring naturally. Where there are opportunities to include relevant material, or to adjust images and slides to better reflect contemporary society, then these should be taken. A fully-embedded approach, though, involves more than the production of teaching materials which are reflective of a multicultural and progressive society though, and educators should question their assumptions and biases wherever relevant to do so.

Schools will have a lead point of contact on diversity and related values-based issues, and they will not only welcome enquiries, but may well offer training and ideas for more cohesive integration of appropriate values-based concepts and processes into teaching. Similarly, one's peers are a resource to be drawn upon; sharing ideas and discussing challenges is a sensible way forwards, and will go to supporting the collegiate aspects of teaching as a profession in your setting.

Ways in which ideas related to diversity, equality, SMSC, and core British values might be embedded include the following (Department for Education, 2014):

  • Demonstrating democratic principles by engaging in student democratic processes such as an elected school council, or mock elections to chime with parliamentary or other electoral cycles
  • Provide for extra-curricular activity, and support that which is student-led and initiated, which may promote positive values
  • Incorporate into syllabuses as appropriate material which fosters direct engagement with ideas related to diversity, equality, and fundamental British values
  • Contrast these ideas with those from other countries where such core values are not respected, and where tyranny and/or oppression is the consequence, so that learners may appreciate the value of British values and law
  • Use teaching resources and learning contexts which integrate diversity and equality into subject areas where these may not occur naturally.


Think of occasions from your own education where diversity and equality (or other values-based concepts) might have been downplayed, used inappropriately, or perhaps employed awkwardly. How did that make you feel as a learner? What would you have done differently?

Think of five ways you can make your teaching more inclusive, more open to questions of mutual respect and tolerance, and of celebration of diversity. What are those five?

What are you doing already? Identify where your practice evidences embedding of positive values. What about your learners' work? How do they evidence engagement with positive values through their school work? Are there opportunities to enhance such evidencing?

Why is it important to embed certain values?

From a compliance perspective, there is an impetus to work to proactively and successfully embed the kinds of positive values considered in this chapter. Ofsted currently considers SMSC provision at the school level through its inspection and grading processes. As with other criteria, SMSC provision is graded on a 1-4 scale, with 1 referring to outstanding provision, and 4 being deemed inadequate. Provision assessed to be outstanding will have "a thoughtful and wide-ranging promotion of pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development" whereas an inadequate school will be seen to have "serious weaknesses in the overall promotion of pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development" (Citizenship Foundation, 2015).

The function of such inspection protocols is not to act as a stick to punish underperforming schools, but rather to encourage and reward through acknowledgement those institutions who are serving their learners - than their wider community contexts - through innovative and well-embedded SMSC-related provision. One way of approaching this (and, indeed to internal and external inspections is general) is to see them as an opportunity to have one's effectiveness, as an individual educator, and as a contributor to wider school initiatives, validated by others.

Outstanding schools not only provide an excellent quality of education, but they protect their children from external dangers, including those presented by intolerance, racism and the threat of extremism. The same schools will work also to develop and support community cohesion initiatives, and will not only recognise their equality and diversity obligations, but will champion their stance. For Hadwen (2014), outstanding trainee teachers are distinguished, at least in part, because their teaching is informed by a moral purpose, that they are capable of reflecting on and reassessing their vision of teaching and learning, and they can successfully and seamlessly integrate cross-curricular themes such as SMSC into their teaching. In addition to this, such teachers will be able to adapt as priorities shift and as guidance is updated, and will work to develop the wider life and mission of the school.

In addition, schools play an important role in community life, and in the general education (in its widest form) and socialisation of children and young people. Schools may be the only location where children can mix freely with a spectrum of opinions, with people from different heritages and outlooks on life, and with diverse heritages. The experience of school may be very different from a child's home life, or their socialisation out of school hours. Part of the function of the school and all that it offers is to demonstrate through lived examples the array of lives that people live, and that there are systems and values in place that provide for that diversity to peacefully and meaningfully co-exist. That is part of the freedom which young people can enjoy in the UK, which may not be available to their peers in other parts of the world; such freedom is to be protected, upheld, supported and explained, so that it not taken for granted or misunderstood.


Think of settings in which you have visited, worked in, or trained. How does the ethos of that setting communicate itself? Think in terms of the geography of the setting, its displays, the pupils, the staff, the parents of children attending there, and the impacts which the setting might have on its host communities and its locality.

How important is it for schools to work to produce good people as well as those who are well-schooled in subject terms?

If not schools, where else? How might positive values be elsewhere communicated to learners? How central are the roles of schools to the development of engaged young people who can contribute to adult life as respectful and democratic citizens? How successful do you think such processes have been in the past, and are in the present? What about the future?


This chapter has addressed much material linked to the role of schools, as mandated by legislation as well as by educational thinking, in the supporting of a values-based education. Questions of diversity and equality, of respect for the rule of law and an appreciation of democratic freedoms as well as the responsibility to contribute to an open and civil society which is respectful and tolerant of difference, have all been central to this chapter. Formal education is seen by successive governments and those who advise them as being crucial in the development of our young, not just in terms of their academic progress, but as members of civil society.

It might be considered that tendencies towards presenting partial views of the world, or those which support some values but which disparage others, are ever more available through a spectrum of mass media, online, and lifestyle possibilities that present aspects of the world and not an overview of it. At one extreme, this may mean religious or other bigotry and intolerance, or else the favouring of extremist political ideologies over reasoned debate. Schools represent a set of opportunities to reach not only young people, but the communities and families associated with them. The range of initiatives and public duties incumbent on schools as public bodies emphasises this; the work of developing citizens is perhaps more necessary than ever, and as a relevant part of a wider educational experience for present and future generations.


Now you have completed this chapter you should be able to:

  • Define and exemplify SMSC values, equality and diversity, and British values in a UK education context
  • Consider the place of anti-extremism initiatives such as the Prevent strategy
  • Reflect on the worth of embedding values into subject-based education
  • Appreciate the role and mission of education in the development of an open, democratic, equal, and progressive society

Reference List

Citizenship Foundation (2015) What is SMSC? Available at: http://www.doingsmsc.org.uk/ (Accessed: 6 November 2016).

Department for Children, Schools, and Families (2007) Guidance on the duty to promote community cohesion. Available at: http://www.tedcantle.co.uk/publications/029%20Guidance%20on%20duty%20to%20promote%20community%20cohesion%20in%20school.pdf (Accessed: 15 November 2016).

Department for Education (2014) Promoting fundamental British values as part of SMSC in schools. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/380595/SMSC_Guidance_Maintained_Schools.pdf (Accessed: 6 November 2016).

Department for Education (2015) The Prevent duty: departmental advice for schools and childcare providers. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/439598/prevent-duty-departmental-advice-v6.pdf (Accessed: 6 November 2016).

Equality and Diversity UK (2011) Embedding equality and diversity. Available at: http://www.equalityanddiversity.co.uk/samples/sample-embedding-equality-and-diversity-into-everyday-practice.pdf (Accessed: 6 November 2016).

Grid for Learning (2008) Equality and diversity toolkit. Available at: http://www.thegrid.org.uk/learning/bme/equality/documents/diversity_toolkit/equality_diversity_toolkit.pdf (Accessed: 6 November 2016).

Hadwen, D. (2014) Embedding SMSC, prevent and British values in schools. Available at: https://www.hud.ac.uk/media/universityofhuddersfield/content2013/schools/educationandprofessionaldevelopment/docs/primarypartnershipwebsite/4april2016/Web%20SMSC,%20British%20Values%20and%20PREVENT%20Huds.pdf (Accessed: 6 November 2016).

HM Government (2014) The Equality Act 2010 and schools departmental advice for school leaders, school staff, governing bodies and local authorities. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/315587/Equality_Act_Advice_Final.pdf (Accessed: 6 November 2016).

Home Office (2015) Channel duty guidance: protecting vulnerable people from being drawn into terrorism statutory guidance. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/425189/Channel_Duty_Guidance_April_2015.pdf (Accessed: 6 November 2016).

Khaleeli, H. (2015) 'You worry they could take your kids': Is the prevent strategy demonising Muslim schoolchildren? Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/sep/23/prevent-counter-terrorism-strategy-schools-demonising-muslim-children (Accessed: 6 November 2016).

Learning and Teaching Scotland (2013) Promoting diversity and equality: developing responsible citizens for 21 st century Scotland. Available at: http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/Images/Promoting_DE080313_tcm4-747988.pdf (Accessed: 15 November 2016).

Ofsted (2016) School inspection handbook. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/school-inspection-handbook-from-september-2015 (Accessed: 6 November 2016).

Prevent for FE and Training (2015) Prevent duty exemplar risk assessment proforma. Available at: http://www.preventforfeandtraining.org.uk/sites/default/files/Prevent%20Duty%20Risk%20Assessment_Action%20Plan%20template.doc (Accessed: 6 November 2016).



As part of your continuing professional development, you are asked to attend a training day. The subject of the training is related to embedding values in education, and, in particular, the embedding of SMSC (spiritual, moral, social, and cultural values) within lessons and the wider life of the school in the upcoming academic year.

As part of the training, you and the group of colleagues who you have been put into a team with have been asked (as have other teams) to come up with a series of suggestions for embedding into a) subject curricula and b) wider school activities material relevant to each of the four sets of values included within SMSC.

Your task, therefore, is to suggest ways in which spiritual, moral, social, and cultural values might be included into both classroom and school-wide efforts. What ideas might your team some up with?


One way of approaching a task like this is to consider in full what opportunities freely exist, and what the more obvious gaps in developing the stated values might be. For example, subjects such as English, art, design and media studies will generate plenty of options to consider questions such as representation in the media. Even classic texts, such as Shakespearean plays, can yield interesting approaches: how might such plays be approached in terms of updating their content for contemporary audiences, either in staging or casting, or else in retelling their stories in fresh temporal and geographical contexts? What assumptions underpinned the world of the Bronte sisters, of Jane Austen or Dickens, and how might selected texts (or passages from those texts) be reinterpreted in light of modern-day reappraisal of such assumptions?

More challenges may be thought to exist in sciences and technology, where social and cultural concerns might form less of the curriculum. Displays, though, could highlight the impact of, for example, female and black scientists and engineers, or of LGBT ICT pioneers such as Alan Turing. This would help to demonstrate the contributions of traditionally marginalised groups to these disciplines, and may be used to generate discussion which promotes relevant values.

Sports and PE sessions could investigate sports and games from non-Westernised contexts, as well as focusing on popular UK sports. Team games like the Indian contact sport kabbadi could be introduced into the syllabus, and used to develop both inter-school links and wide community connections. Where appropriate, links across subject areas could be drawn to be mutually-reinforcing; sports and games might be linked to humanities studies, and even to business-related learning, as sports represent significant commercial and promotional interests.

Straightforward links can be made school-wide in the context of contemporary current affairs. The status of the UK's EU membership in the light of the 2016 referendum might trigger a range of school-wide responses involving discussions of citizenship at the levels of locality, country (England, Wales, Scotland as examples), and of European citizenship, and the relative merits and responsibilities associated with each; an investigation of British values (as well as the relationship between those and other sets of values) would be ongoing through such discussions. Project-based work shadowing the ongoing negotiations might provide interesting opportunities to make politics and voting meaningful, as the practical implication of the developing proposals are investigated by learners.

Though there may be programmes in your setting in which guests are invited to address pupils from faith and community groups, and there may also be consultative community committees which engage with the work of the school, there may be opportunities to further strengthen community/school links, not least through parental and pupil involvement, and through the engagement of such stakeholders with the culture of the educational setting.

Such ideas might partner more straightforward responses such as updating course materials, and checking resources for opportunities to make clearer in such resources an embedded appreciation of the diversity of both the country and the locality. A buddy system, whereby a staff colleague acts as a critical friend for their teaching partner, may be useful, so that each member of teaching staff has a nominated and approachable second opinion available when reviewing their classroom work and resource use. In such ways, each staff member might be reassured that the developments that they are considering have been checked with a peer, and that there can not only be agreement, but a sense of collegiality being fostered, making the embedding of SMSC values less of an individual consideration for teachers and more of a school-wide investment.

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