Prevent Watch

Why is Shawcross ignorant of ‘fundamental British values’ in schools?

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The teaching of Fundamental British Values (FBV) in schools is incorporated into the requirement of schools to develop the spiritual, moral and cognitive development of children.

It was introduced together with a new Prevent duty on schools in the wake of the Birmingham Trojan Horse affair.

Shawcross is ignorant of fundamental British values in schools

In his review of Prevent, Shawcross seems unaware that the teaching of FBV is a statutory duty on schools, or that it is developed as a ‘whole curriculum’ approach.

He does not consider how its coupling with Prevent means that in effect the spiritual, moral, and cultural development of children has become securitised.

Although he expresses the view that the values are not specifically ‘British values’ but that they reflect ‘liberal principles’, he does not interrogate the designation of them as ‘British’.

This designation infers a potential ‘deficit’ on the part of ethnic minority children, while being ‘British’ means the everyday culture of white majorities (many of whom do not accept liberal principles) are normalised and in cases of nationalistic ideology, they may even be excused.

The ‘blasphemy law’ claim and Batley Grammar School

Shawcross’s treatment of the protests at Batley Grammar School over the showing of cartoons of the Prophet (pbuh) in a religious studies class show that his first reaction to protests by Muslim parents is to regard such actions as an indication of ‘extremism’.

He also assumes that such parents fail to understand the notion of ‘British values’.

Shawcross has argued that any definition of Islamophobia would be contrary to free speech and a blasphemy law by the back door.

In the case of Batley, he states that “pacifying the protestors’ fury was prioritised over the defence of Fundamental British Values”.

He does not mention that the Trust of which the school was part conducted an inquiry.

Only a summary of the findings was published, but they were in favour of the parents.

Free speech with respect is part of fundamental British values

The inquiry found that the teacher had acted improperly and against the Teacher’ Standards.

These require teachers to uphold Fundamental British Values, but they do not provide a teacher with unconstrained freedom of speech.

Mr Shawcross’s conclusion that the matter should have been resolved under Prevent by the “deployment of senior regional co-ordinators and incident-driven counter narratives”, is evidence that he views protests by Muslim parents as invalid.

Not only this; they are judged to be necessarily ‘extremist’.

Further, he recommends that the Homeland Security Group should conduct research into countering ‘Islamist’ violence, incitement and intimidation linked to ‘blasphemy’.

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