Friday Update – 15 May 2015

This week I take a look at the impact of the election results on education and the promotion of British Values with the introduction of the new Counter Terrorism Security Act 2015 which comes into force on 1 July.

In the aftermath of the election even though the Prime Minister remains the same, we have a new majority Conservative Government, so questions about the future of education are inevitable. The Conservatives education pledges from their election manifesto included:

  • the academisation of all failing or coasting secondary schools
  • more free schools (with 500 already planned)
  • compulsory GCSEs in English, Maths, Science, a language and History /Geography for secondary school pupils (schools that fail to offer this will only be able to receive ‘good’ as their highest possible Ofsted rating)
  • every pupil should know their times tables by heart, be able to read a book and write a short story with accurate punctuation, spelling and grammar by the age of 11

Nicky Morgan continues to serve in her Cabinet role, having been the Education Secretary for the past 10 months. Tristram Hunt is the new Shadow Education Secretary, Nick Gibb retains his role as Minister of State for School Reform, as well as Sam Gyimah who retains his place in the Department as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Education, so the education scene at Westminster has not suffered a dramatic change following the results.

All schools have a duty to provide a broad and balanced curriculum and promote spiritual, moral, social and cultural education (SMSC), which should include promotion of British values. The promotion of British values is a requirement for academies. As of 1 July 2015, the new Counter Terrorism Security Act 2015 means that governors must also ‘have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism’.

Governing bodies should, however, deal with the threat of extremism in their school proportionately and appropriately. Indeed, Prevent Duty guidance published by the Home Office in March states schools should incorporate the threat of extremism into wider safeguarding policies. The guidance largely limits itself to setting out the extent of the legal duty, rather than providing any ‘how to’ examples. There is no requirement for Governing bodies to appoint specific link governors for preventing extremism in schools or for governors to raise the issue outside of a safeguarding context.