The teaching of British Values in schools has never been more important than now. The free school movement allows us to create a very important vision and ethos to ensure everyone in our society truly understands, appreciates and is proud of our country no matter what their background. A rise in various forms of religious fundamentalism, in particular Islamic Fundamentalism and the frightening number of British born people going abroad to fight for terrorist organisations such as ISIS only presses home the importance of ensuring our young people are protected from such destructive ideologies by celebrating the values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, tolerance and respect. As the Secretary of State for Education Nicky Morgan has quite rightly previously said “Promoting fundamental British values is about far more than combating extremism. The very reason that fundamental British values are successful in combatting extremist ideology is because they help to open young people’s minds, making them into citizens who respect difference, who welcome disagreement and who challenge intolerance”.
This is why in the Free School that I have proposed to open in London (GATES Academy - opening 2017) the key cornerstone is 'Global Citizenship’ based on British values. As a Briton whose parents were born in Uganda and whose Grandparents were born in India, I would emphasise that we should not be ashamed or hold back promoting British values in our schools and great institutions; in fact we should promote and be proud of what Britain has given to the world. One could argue this is one of the most important components of the Free School's agenda that this government has, as it plays an extremely important role in preserving British values.
Britain has a unique place in the world through its rich history and connections with countries from all over that have made it into a vibrant and multicultural society. Our unique diversity should be celebrated but with being British and embracing British values at its very core. We need to not be shy about this important topic and to embrace it. Prime Minister David Cameron said back in 2014 "Sometimes in this country we can be a bit squeamish about our achievements, even bashful about our Britishness. We shouldn’t be. Of course, we should teach history with warts and all. But we should be proud of what Britain has done to defend freedom and develop these institutions – Parliamentary democracy, a free press, the rule of law - that are so essential for people all over the world. This is the country that helped fight fascism, topple communism and abolish slavery; we invented the steam engine, the light bulb, the internet; and we also gave so much of the world the way of life that they hold so dear.” He is of course absolutely correct and I hope we can inspire the youth of today to hold our country’s British values dear to them and become Global Citizen's in an increasingly smaller world.
Kishan Devani is Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party in London. He is also Chairman of the Treasurers Committee at CWF.
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