Fundamental British values

June 3rd, 2016 by Peter Oldham QC

The National College of Teaching & Leadership regulates teachers’ professional conduct on behalf of the Secretary of State. The Teachers’ Disciplinary (England) Regulations 2012 provide for the policing of “Teachers’ Standards”, a document published by SoS, which has a section entitled “Personal and Professional Conduct”. This includes the following:-

“Teachers uphold public trust in the profession and maintain high standards of ethics and behaviour, within and outside school, by: … not undermining fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect, and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs.”

On 25th May 2016, a NCTL panel held that Meena Chivers, a SENCO at a community school imprisoned for offences of physical violence outside an educational setting, had amongst other things “undermined fundamental British values, including … the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect”. The Panel recommended to SoS that she should be prohibited indefinitely from teaching. SoS accepted the recommendation and further determined that she should not be entitled to apply for restoration of her eligibility to teach. There is a right of appeal to the High Court against such orders.  The panel’s reasoning and decision are here.

The term “fundamental British values” also crops up in legislation. One of the required standards of quality of education at an independent school under the Education (Independent School Standards) Regulations 2014 is that the school’s written policy on the curriculum does not undermine fundamental British values. And conduct aimed at undermining fundamental British values is a ground for prohibition from managing an independent school under the Independent Educational Provision in England (Prohibition on Participation in Management) Regulations 2014.

Peter Oldham QC

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