I took a look at my primary school’s website today, out of nostalgia. I had generally remembered it rather fondly as a fairly diverse and laid-back environment (to be contrasted against my secondary school, with its strict uniform policies, school prayers and extremely heavy workload). Therefore, it was a little alarming (but also amusing) to look at the website’s description of the school’s values. They include:
‘How British values are promoted at Broomgrove Junior School.’
‘Our curriculum is designed to ensure that our children have the opportunity to learn and reflect on the British values that underpin our lives.’
‘The School Council ensures that all children can influence decision making through the democratic processes.’
‘through promoting British values, our children will become responsible citizens for the future’
You might spot a theme here. Even though only a couple of teachers from my own time are still around, I doubt the entire ethos of the school will have changed particularly heavily over fifteen years: There haven’t been huge changes in local demographics, even if the local university has expanded.
While the ‘Prevent’ strategy, in which David Cameron and Theresa May have tried to prevent radicalisation by encouraging schools to promote ‘British values’ (and to report suspicious children, and those who don’t speak English at home), I’m beginning to suspect that all it served to do was to force teachers to spend their precious time and effort in updating their schools’ websites and vision statements.