Nicky Morgan: ‘No school should be exempt from promoting fundamental British values, just as no school should be exempt from promoting rigorous academic standards’
Teaching every schoolchild in the country about British values is as important as Maths and English and will protect UK from terror attacks, the Education secretary has said.
The lessons in British values were introduced by Michael Gove, Nicky Morgan’s predecessor as Education secretary, in the wake of the Trojan horse scandal last when primary schools were infiltrated by radical Muslims in Birmingham.
An inquiry by Peter Clarke, the former anti-terror chief, later concluded that there had been “co-ordinated, deliberate and sustained action” by a number of individuals to introduce an “intolerant and aggressive Islamic ethos” into a few schools in the city.
In a speech at the thinktank Politeia, Mrs Morgan: “No school should be exempt from promoting fundamental British values, just as no school should be exempt from promoting rigorous academic standards.”
Mrs Morgan made an explicit link between indoctrinating primary school children and the attacks by Muslim terrorists on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket in Paris earlier this month.
She said: “The events in Birmingham last year showed what happened, when those that don’t subscribe to our fundamental British values try to hijack our education system, radicalise our children and break those societal bonds. What happened in Paris this month, showed what can happen when people like that succeed.”
Mrs Morgan said: “It shouldn’t take any intervention from my Department to say that young people should be learning the fundamental British Values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, tolerance and respect – because these British values are fundamentally a good thing.
“Fundamental British Values are the attributes that have in this century and the last, made our country one of the greatest forces for good.
“They’re the values that bind us together, that mean despite the many differences in our patchwork nation, we’re united as one people.”
Mrs Morgan backed plans by the school inspector Ofsted to check that lessons on British values as part of their inspection regime.
Ofsted found last October that schools at the centre of the Trojan Horse scandal were still promoting an “unbalanced curriculum” and segregating boys and girls in the classroom, according to Ofsted.
Mrs Morgan said: “I will always vigorously defend the requirement on schools to promote British values – and why I am convinced that it is right that Ofsted are now taking steps to make sure that this is happening in the schools they inspect.
“Ofsted themselves are the first to acknowledge that inspection isn’t perfect, it’s an art not a science and there are very real steps needed to improve the quality of some inspections.
“But as a parent, I feel better in the knowledge that someone is going into our schools and asking whether what is being taught, conforms to those very simple, universal, liberal British values.”
She added: “Promoting fundamental British values is about far more than combatting extremism.
“The very reason that fundamental British values are successful in tackling extremist ideology is because they help to open young people’s minds, making them into citizens who respect difference, who welcome disagreement and who challenge intolerance.
“I’m afraid I have no sympathy for those who say that British values need not apply to them, that this should purely be a special test for schools in predominantly Muslim communities or our inner cities.
“Every school regardless, faith or none – should be promoting British values, because it’s the right thing to do.”