Democracy and Rule of Law: Education

Department for Education written question – answered on 6th September 2021.

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Photo of Stuart Anderson Stuart Anderson Conservative, Wolverhampton South West

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if his Department will take steps to ensure that young people leave school with an effective education in (a) democratic processes, (b) the rule of law and (c) respect for others.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

All schools must offer a curriculum which is broad and balanced, and which prepares pupils for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life. The Department expects all schools to promote the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance.

Through citizenship, which is a statutory subject at Key Stages 3 and 4 of the National Curriculum, pupils are taught about Parliament, voting and elections, the legal system in the United Kingdom, different sources of law and how the law helps society deal with complex problems. The subject helps to prepare pupils to play a full and active part in society and teaches them how to explore political and social issues, to weigh up evidence, to debate, and to make reasoned arguments. Pupils should also be taught about the diverse national, regional, religious and ethnic identities in the United Kingdom and the need for mutual respect and understanding.

Pupils are also taught about respect and tolerance through relationships education, which is compulsory for all school-aged pupils. The statutory guidance on relationships, sex and health education sets out the content to be covered for each subject, which includes teaching about treating everyone with respect regardless of their background and characteristics: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/relationships-education-relationships-and-sex-education-rse-and-health-education. Pupils are also taught about their legal rights and responsibilities regarding equality, particularly with reference to the protected characteristics, as defined in the Equality Act 2010.

As with other aspects of the curriculum, schools have flexibility over how they deliver these subjects, so they can develop an integrated approach that is sensitive to the needs and background of their pupils.

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