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Early Years Alphabet: B is for British Values

The Department for Education (DfE) includes Fundamental British Values in the statutory requirements for early years providers. This means that the fundamental British values of democracy, rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance for those with different faiths and beliefs should be implicitly embedded in what we teach the children in our settings.

Democracy: Making Decisions Together

As part of children’s personal, social and emotional development, there should be a focus on self-confidence, self-esteem and self-awareness. Practitioners should enable children to see the value of their own views as well as the views of others. Children should be able to see their role in the bigger picture and know that their values and feelings count, as well as having appropriate agency over their own decisions. When it suits the context of the children’s current activity, enable children to see democracy in action – for example, voting on what book to read at story time.

Children’s decisions should be supported and they should be encouraged to partake in activities that involve taking turns as well as sharing and collaborating with others. Their questions should be valued and answered to the best of practitioners’ abilities, when appropriate.

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

Rule of Law: Understanding Rules Matter

As part of helping children learn how to manage feelings and behaviour, they should be encouraged to consider different points of view – some of which may contrast with their own views. It is important to enable children to think about how both their and their peers’ actions have consequences, and about how to distinguish right from wrong.

Children should be included in collaborative decision-making processes such as creating codes of behaviour and know that the rules apply to everyone.

Individual Liberty: Freedom for All

To encourage further understanding of other people and communities, staff should provide opportunities for children to develop their self-knowledge and self-esteem. They should be enabled to develop a positive sense of themselves and learn to have confidence in their own abilities. One example of this could be through creating their own artwork or taking risks on a play area.

Children should also be enabled to explore the language of feelings and responsibility through various experiences and activities. It is important to help children reflect on the differences between groups of people and understand that everyone is free to have different opinions without judgement or prejudice.

Photo by samer daboul from Pexels

Photo by samer daboul from Pexels

Mutual Respect and Tolerance: Treating Others as You Want to be Treated

In order to facilitate children making relationships, practitioners should foster an atmosphere of inclusivity within their settings, where different views, faiths, cultures and races are all valued and treated equally. Engaging children with the wider community and should be encouraged to have tolerance, appreciation and respect for both their own and other cultures. Discussing the similarities and differences between children in the setting and other families, faiths, communities, cultures and conditions enables children to learn and build up their knowledge of the wider community.

Practitioners should model these good behaviours by promoting diverse attitudes and by challenging stereotypes, explaining to children the importance of tolerant behaviours.

It is absolutely not acceptable to:

  • Actively promote intolerance of other cultures, races or faiths.
  • Routinely segregate girls and boys and promote harmful gender stereotypes.
  • Fail to challenge behaviours from families, children or staff that are not in line with the fundamental British Values of democracy, rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance.