Citizenship: Education

Department for Education written question – answered at on 23 March 2023.

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Photo of Matt Vickers Matt Vickers Conservative, Stockton South

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps her Department is taking to promote British values in schools.

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

All schools have a duty to promote the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance. Citizenship is an effective way of doing this and the Department expects teachers to reinforce these values as well as to support pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.

Through citizenship, which is a statutory subject at Key Stages 3 and 4 of the National Curriculum, pupils are taught about Parliament, the importance of voting and elections, the legal system in the UK, 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 critically, 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 taught about respect and tolerance through relationships, sex and health education (RSHE), which is compulsory for all school-aged pupils. The statutory guidance on RSHE sets out the content to be covered for each subject, which includes teaching about treating everyone with respect regardless of their background and characteristics. Further information is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/relationships-education-relationships-and-sex-education-rse-and-health-education.

The Department has published advice for schools on promoting these values, which can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/promoting-fundamental-british-values-through-smsc. Further resources have been made available through the ‘Educate Against Hate’ website, which can be found here: https://educateagainsthate.com/resources/respectful-school-communities-self-review-signposting-tool-2/.

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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