So here I am on a gloomy Friday morning, casually reading the Guardian app when I come across this gem – Toddlers must learn British values.
My brain was struggling slightly – toddlers? Must? Learn? British? Values?
As I read deeper, it all became clear as obviously we are nipping extremism in the bud by starting with the British values while they are in nappies! Nappies!!!
To be honest, I’m not quite sure why I am writing this blogpost now, as I am yet to form a fully coherent thought about this topic that isn’t “what? But? What? How? Why?” but it is my new resolution to blog more so here I am.
I have never worked below key stage one, so I am not particularly well placed to talk about what happens in our nurseries (for 2 and 3 year olds) but from my discussions with the members of staff who do, the last thing they will be starting with in September is the teaching of British values; chances are they will be more focused on making sure all the children have been toilet trained and can feed themselves.
My school is situated in a very ethnically diverse area, so to be quite honest, it would not surprise me if our school was to get a little ‘visit’ to check that we are not promoting extremism too. But for two and three year olds?!? They are deemed to young to go to Arabic school anyway so where the extremism would start to be dripped in, I don’t know – would they even understand what they are being told? I can just picture a tiny 3 year old now “I’m sorry Imam, but I just can’t agree with your radical views as just today in nursery we learnt all about the British values of fairness and democracy for all” – yep that’s definitely happening.
How will we show that we are promoting British values? Festoon everything in Union Jack flags? Ensure the children can sing the National Anthem by heart before they leave Reception? Some nurseries will probably take this too far and there will be no mention of any other religious stories for fear of promoting creationism and then having their funding cut. It was interesting that in the article somebody is quoted as saying ‘we’re not saying you can’t teach Bible stories’. But what about the Muslim, Sikh and Hindu creation stories? To create a well rounded society, we need to understand everyone’s view points. If we can teach a Bible story about how the world began, then why not a Muslim story too?
I fully appreciate the sentiment for where this statement came from; that to create a fully inclusive society we all need to understand that we live in Britain so therefore we must all abide by the same ‘British values’ (which if I’m honest sounds all about too UKIP for my liking) but equally we need to value diversity. The community that my school is situated in is fantastic and not once have I ever thought ‘oh my goodness, we need to get some British values instilled around here’! British values are linked in with the values for a healthy society and any good school will be teaching these values anyway – they just don’t call them ‘British’. If we are not careful, we could almost end up going the opposite way and indoctrinating children into extremism about British values – a 3 year old BNP member anyone?
I just hope that nurseries across the UK and nursery managers/head teachers who have read this this morning think ‘pfft what tosh, I am confident in my nursery staff that the values we teach are ‘British’ enough to satisfy any ofsted inspector’. But sadly, I know that there will be some nurseries who panic and go the other way – making everything overly British, banning the creationist stories from other cultures (which are often some of the children’s favourites anyway) and stamping down on any reference to any cultures that they deem not British enough. I have a horrible feeling that this ‘inclusive’ policy could backfire horribly.