The Mykonos Vase, c. 670 BC.
Such a long time since we talked. Keeping well? Good. I promised to tell you more about OFSTED, but compared to the Birmingham excitement, I don’t have much to say. Inspectors came, got us straight away and despite not being able to stop themselves asking finicky questions, delivered a clear and helpful report. In the through-the-looking-glass language of school accountability we got a good good. Fair play to them: a British value?
More excitingly, the week before half term was Deaf Awareness Week which we threw ourselves into with typical gusto. Huge prizes (small badges, wrist bands, useful leaflets) were offered to those who had another go at signing during sunny days in the yard. It seems as though everyone learned how to say good morning and good afternoon, and some could even say who they were – a benefit in any language. We made a little film in which we chuckle at ourselves a lot. Is not taking ourselves too seriously another British value?
The memories of wars are heavy this year. Before half term we’d met with our vicar to plan our part in the redevelopment of the war memorial in St James’ Kidbrooke. We think it’ll be interesting to find out who we’re related to and what happened to them. We need to think about the D Day anniversary too, once we can have some assemblies again after exams. Remembering (and getting round to it in the end) are British values too.
And so is going to Tyn y Berth for a week with year 8 to be outdoorsy or walking down to Sports Day in Sutcliffe Park or selling doughnuts for charity or other ordinary things. It’s being so astonished by the sun that you get half-dressed outside after PE just for the feel of it, or getting really cross with an inanimate object and having to climb down afterwards. But it’s also putting other people first and creating the circumstances for everyone to get along together, and taking care of the hard-won victories of democracy and equality. Trying to make things better for everyone is surely a British Value?
There are so many irritating factors in the Trojan Horse furore, so many ways in which conspiracy may be alleged on all sides that paranoia and suspicion may well have become British values as well as Corporal Jones-y panic. Useless to speculate on Wilshaw, Gove or May’s motives but I wouldn’t be British if I didn’t add my two-penn’orth. We HAD a statement of British Values for schools – it was in the preamble to the 2008 version of the National Curriculum and it was wonderful. It said
Education should reflect the enduring values that contribute to personal development and equality of opportunity for all, a healthy and just democracy, a productive economy, and sustainable development. These include values relating to the self, recognising that we are unique human beings capable of spiritual, moral, intellectual and physical growth and development, relationships as fundamental to the development and fulfilment of ourselves and others, and to the good of the community. We value others for themselves, not only for what they have or what they can do for us, the diversity in our society, where truth, freedom, justice, human rights, the rule of law and collective effort are valued for the common good.
undermine fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect, and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs;