British Values and the agreements to provide early education places   3 comments

Those who work in education cannot have failed to notice the information about ‘British Values’ which the Government are saying we must promote to all children.

And now – after a bit of a delay as after all we are almost a whole half term into the academic year 2014 – 2015 – early years settings are being sent the new agreements to sign, if they want to provide Government funded early education places for 2, 3 and 4 year olds.

(And I am sure schools will have their own guidelines to follow)

 

These agreements that are now arriving on doorsteps – or into inboxes, are based on the guidelines set for local authorities by the Government, if you have not seen this document yet you can read it By clicking HERE

I have to say that when I first heard about ‘British Values’, I could see why the Government felt it was necessary to put pen to paper and specify what they felt needing clarifying.

I also have to say that at first, I did not agree with being told what to teach and what not to teach – especially in relation to the very young children in my care (under fives).

I questioned just what British Values are – and indeed from which point in British history should these values be based on  because at many points within British history the values and ethos have not been the sort of values that I personally believe in.

I also questioned why any further guidance was needed for early years setting as the Early Years Foundation Stage 2014 is very clear about the type of activities and experiences to be offered

And I was worried about the impact on all faith based settings because many faiths have lots of stories that can not be proven to be based on ‘established scientific or historical evidence and explanations’.

To be honest, although I do not practice any faith myself, I do think many of the faith stories (as well as stories from other cultures) are not only good stories to read but based on morals – ie rights and wrongs – and I use stories from a wide range of faiths and cultures in my setting.

 

So when I first saw the updated guidance document for Sept 2014 (there was a draft one that did not have the British Values bit) I admit I panicked at the way  it was worded in the first reference in the document – which is at the top of page 14, under A4b

that providers will actively promote fundamental British values and not promote views or theories as fact which are contrary to established scientific or historical evidence and explanations;

I thought to myself – how could I continue to read those stories that I and the children love when I could not say for sure which are / are not in line with above?

I had first seen sight of the document at a meeting with my LA – and so I asked for the document to be sent to me – which it was (surprisingly hard to find in a goggle search – the draft document comes up)

I read through it again – several times – it helped that my LA had highlighted in yellow all the main changes.

So I read this

A4.25 Fundamental British values, first set out in the Government’s Prevent strategy, are democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs. The promotion of fundamental British values will be reflected in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and exemplified in an age-appropriate way through practice guidance

So, a little bit of reassurance – it mentions things that I can relate to, it mentions the Early Years Foundation Stage – but I still have a niggling doubt about the impact on my practice.

I read on ….

A4.26 The reference to the promotion as evidence-based of views and theories contrary to established scientific or historical evidence and explanations is intended to cover the presentation of creationism as fact. It has no bearing on teaching children about religious
beliefs, traditions and festivals, and is simply intended to remove funding from providers presenting such views and beliefs as ‘fact’ or ‘science’

and

A4.27 The learning goals in the EYFS are clear that providers are expected to teach a broad and balanced curriculum to ensure that children ‘understand the world’ and learn about ‘similarities and differences between themselves and others, and among families, communities and traditions’. Providers who wish to celebrate religious and cultural festivals, for example putting on a nativity play, a harvest festival or a celebration of Eid, can still do so.

By now, I am feeling a lot more positive – but I was still not sure how I could ensure I met the criteria – especially as I do provide early education places for 2, 3 and 4 years olds – I was going to be required to sign my LA provider agreement.

 

I put the kettle on, made a coffee and did some thinking – and some reflecting

I recalled a situation from many years ago when I advised a colleague about a situation around a parent who did not want their child to be ‘lied to’ not even half truths or suggestions – therefore Father Christmas was not real so could not tell the child he was or even suggest he might be

My advise at the time was to ask the parent if telling stories was allowed – after all we all know Spot the Dog does not exsist and dogs don;t talk, so if applying literally all stories would be on the ‘ can’t do list’

As it happens the parent was happy with this, and so in the childminders setting or when at groups (including the one I ran at the time) we just had to make sure we started all stories with ‘This is a story about ……’

By now my coffee was finished and so was my reflecting – I had the answer to my self set question about how I could meet the criteria of the provider agreement – and still read all those lovely stories from different cultures and faiths.

 

I would simply start every story with

‘This is a story about …. then the name of the author, the illustrator and so on – that way all books / stories would be treated in the same way and I would not be suggesting that some where ‘real’ or fact based.

A much happier me

Oh and if children ask me if something is real ……… I will do what I already do with things like fairies, Father Christmas and dragons – I will ask the children what they think and let them decide for themselves – at that moment in time.

It would be interesting to hear what others think – so please do comment here on my blog about British Values

 

 

Posted October 18, 2014 by psw260259 in My thoughts on current childcare issues

3 responses to “British Values and the agreements to provide early education places

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  1. Hi Penny, I am very pleased to see more about what exactly is meant by British Values. One of the things I felt that was missing from the latest draft of the EYFS outcomes was that diversity had been watered down somewhat. Most of this boils down to promoting diversity again and that’s great news. THanks, Kay

  2. so glad to read your reflection on this issue, as it has been something I have been thinking about. how wonderful to start with ‘ this is a story about …’

    and I too, never actually say anyone or anything is ‘real’, I always ask what they think.

  3. Pingback: Teaching British Values in the Early Years - Clare's Little Tots

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