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School 'British values' should include 'Love Thy Neighbour'

Fri 14 Nov 2014
By Premier Journalist

The Church of England is warning that the current Department of Education guidelines on 'British values' could be seen as too 'negative and divisive'.

The idea of teaching these ideas at school was set out by the Government four years ago, based upon the idea of 'democracy', 'tolerance', 'mutual respect', 'individual liberty' and 'the rule of law'.

Ministers announced in June that they would consult on plans to tighten standards and ensure all schools actively promote the values.

It was in the wake of the 'Trojan Horse' scandal, where it was alleged Islamic fundamentalist ideology was being taught in schools in Birmingham.

But the Church of England is concerned that the list put forward by the Department for Education, brought into schools from September, is missing several important aspects of British.

It's arguing that Christian concepts, such as ‘Love Thy Neighbour’ ought to be included, and added there should be more public consultation on the matter: "By assuming the power to decide what reasonable or unreasonable behaviour is in our education system, the Secretary of State [Nicky Morgan] would be taking very wide powers for herself and her successors and closing down the broader public debate across communities and schools themselves."

"There is a danger that the 'British values' test could be regarded as an assessment of whether somebody in a community is 'safe' or 'loyal'.

"This would be a negative and divisive approach, and should not be how we define our national identity."

A Department for Education spokesperson argued that a Christian ethos is already "integral" to the existing guidelines, saying:

"The fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance were set out by the Government four years ago and have been commonly used since.

"Clearly Christian principles such as 'loving they neighbour' are integral to those."

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