Promoting British Values in Schools is a challenge. This article looks at Toop Studio’s wall graphic solution for Denbigh High School in Luton.
As of 2014, Ofsted has made it a requirement that every school must show evidence that it is promoting British Values through its curriculum. So what are these values? According to Ofsted, ‘fundamental British values’ comprise of:
- ‘The rule of law’
- ‘Individual liberty’
- ‘Mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs and for those without faith’
The primary goal of Toop Studio’s work is to inspire and educate. With this in mind, we set about illustrating the nuts and bolts of these concepts, in a way that was accessible to Key Stage 3 and 4 students.
Our approach was to examine each value individually. We focused on their cultural and historical aspects, and how that manifested in today’s modern Britain.
First, we looked at what it means to be ‘British’ geographically. The terms ‘British Isles’, ‘the UK’ and ‘Great Britain’ are sometimes used interchangeably (and often incorrectly). To clarify the difference, we included annotated maps, giving Britain its correct geographical context.
Promoting British Values: Democracy
The ‘Democracy’ section was aimed at being as informative as possible for the students.
We wanted to highlight the constituent parts of Britain’s parliamentary democracy. Our graphic breaks the system down into the three bodies that sit under the ‘Crown’:
- the ‘Legislature’,
- the ‘Executive’
- and the ‘Judiciary’
Under each of these bodies, our graphic explores their internal structures.
For ‘Legislature’, we depicted the House of Lords and House of Commons, whilst also explaining constituencies and MPs. Under ‘Executive’, we showed the structure of the government and its cabinet, making clear the difference between ministerial and non-ministerial departments.
Promoting British Values: Rule of Law
The ‘rule of law’ is the principle that all people and institutions are subject and accountable to laws that are fairly applied and enforced.
In our ‘Judiciary’ graphic, we highlighted the hierarchy of the British court system and its independence from the government. This was presented as a network of court buildings. It shows our system deals with civil and criminal cases separately, and the appeal process.
Promoting British Values: Individual Liberty
Individual Liberty is about balance. We are ‘all free to live our lives as we wish, as long as we respect other people’s freedoms, and obey the law.’
However, in the context of our wall design, we did not want just a collection of slogans. Instead, we wanted to give a modern-day definition of ‘Individual Liberty’, through the words of some of its key figureheads.
We included notable figures that embody these values, such as John Stuart Mill, Emmeline Pankhurst and Malala Yousafzai. Surrounding these figures are two trees of words. The first represents the relationship between education and liberty; the second examines liberty in relation to ‘Rights and Responsibilities’.
Promoting British Values: Mutual Respect and Tolerance
Finally, we look at mutual respect and tolerance. we took these two key tenants and applied them to a wider code of cultural moral standards. Our graphic wall features a mixture of religious and secular buildings in a stylised townscape. These buildings are emblematic of the faiths they represent, and the cultures that congregate within them.
Although the government’s definition focused on the subject of religion, we wanted to place equal importance on secular sites of cultural gathering. By doing this, we include race, ethnicity, sexuality and gender as well as religion.
The ‘Golden Rule’ applies to all, and takes a central position on our wall:
‘treat others as you would like them to treat you’.
Promoting British Values is a challenging task. The values themselves involve complex ideas. With this wall graphic commission, we felt the need to delve into the details. Generalities and slogans, simply, just aren’t enough in an academic setting.
Our view is that all British children should know how their country works. Indeed, they may soon be deciding its future!