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Open Access British values and British identity: Muddles, mixtures, and ways ahead

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In the final eleven months of its five-year term, the Coalition Government placed much emphasis in the education system on what it called fundamental British values (FBV). The phrase had its origins in counter-terrorism strategies that were of dubious validity both conceptually and operationally, and the trigger for its introduction into the education system (the so-called Trojan Horse letter in Birmingham) was a malicious forgery. Nevertheless the active promotion of FBV became a legal or quasi-legal requirement, was zealously inspected by Ofsted under instructions from the secretary of state, and was complemented and reinforced by new requirements under counter-terrorism and security legislation. Much damage appears to have been done already in schools and universities and more damage is likely. Much critical, corrective, and restorative work therefore needs now to be done.

For restorative work to be effective a range of measures is needed: substantial discussion and clarification through dialogue; greater respect for the professional experience and insights of teachers and subject communities, particularly in the fields of citizenship education, history teaching, religious education, and spiritual, moral, social, and cultural (SMSC) development; greater trust and cooperation, both nationally and at local levels, between Muslim and nonMuslim organizations and communities; greater attention to Islamic values, wisdom, and pedagogy in the field of education; renewed emphasis on the role of Her Majesty's Inspectorate as a critical friend who identifies, commends, and promotes good practice; and much higher levels of due regard for the values enshrined in equalities legislation.

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Keywords: BRITISH VALUES; COUNTERING EXTREMISM; EQUALITIES; ISLAMOPHOBIA; MULTICULTURALISM; RELIGIOUS LITERACY

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 18 September 2015

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  • Founded in 2003 by the UCL Institute of Education, the journal reflects the Institute's broad interests in all types of education in all contexts - local, national, global - and its commitment to analysis across disciplines using a variety of methodologies. It shares the Institute's aspiration to interrogate links between research, policy and practice, and its principled concern for social justice.

    Drawing on these strengths, LRE is a wide-ranging and engaging journal that features rigorous analysis and significant research across key themes in education, including: public goals and policies; pedagogy; curriculum; organization; resources and technology; and institutional effectiveness. Articles and book reviews are written by experts in education, psychology, sociology, policy studies, philosophy and other disciplines contributing to education research, and by experienced researcher-practitioners working in the field. The highest quality of reporting and presentation are ensured through an independent, anonymised peer-review process. As an entirely web-based open access journal, LRE has been able to offer innovative features and formats including: epistolary conversation; colour photos and illustrations; illustrative video clips.

    LRE welcomes relevant articles and book reviews. Please email them to [email protected]

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