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Gifted Kids Say No Place For British Values in the National Curriculum


A survey of some England’s gifted children in The National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth, based at the University of Warwick, has found that those pupils see no place for the teaching of “British Values” in the National Curriculum.

The researchers were surveying the values held by 453 members of the National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth based at the University of Warwick. The participants were aged between 11 and 17, 58% were female and 42% male. The majority of pupils (80%) were White British with (20%) from minority ethnic groups which roughly reflects the national picture.

While conducting the anonymous survey on the general values held by gifted young people the researchers were surprised at their strength of the opinion on the suggestion that “British values” should be explicitly taught in school/Citizenship classes. A typical response was:

“To be honest this sounds like another government miracle solution to youth misbehavior, which will again go down like the lead balloon…most people see it {citizenship classes} as simply a free period and to be quite honest simply detracts from other school subjects.”

The survey found that the most important values for gifted young people were in their mind “universal” rather than particularly British. Ninety-one per cent of pupils said that social justice was important and 85 per cent said that world peace was important. Sixty Seven per cent per cent reported national security to be important to them but over 10 per cent of pupils reporting that national security was not at all important. The top values for these gifted young people were “self-direction’, “freedom”, and “independence”.

However the young people did not feel these values are particularly ‘British’ and doubted whether they can be transmitted in the classroom through Citizenship education. They suggested that other socialization agents such as the family were far more influential. One pupil found that the notion of teaching British values was particularly pointless:

“We are far more similar than we are different, and difference due to age/gender/earning power is far greater within Britain than difference due to nationality. We don’t have schools teaching the core values of being between 10 and 20. Nor do we have subjects devoted to the core values of masculinity or femininity. Nor do we have specific lessons for those whose families earn between £30,000 and £40,000 a year. Since these things divide people more than nationality, I don’t see why we should have lessons in “Britishness”.”

Other pupils made a difference between British Values and valid and important British traditions, but still not something one could teach. One said:

“There are what I would call core British traditions, such as fish and chips, drinking tea, the Queen’s speech at Christmas and Monarchy, politeness and courtesy.

While the study was anonymous we do have a NAGTY student who is willing to comment and be interviewed on the story from a student perspective.. Michaela Goff (who is 17 and goes to Headington School in Oxford) says:

“In a world which is becoming ever more globalised it seems ludicrous that the British Government is seriously considering trying to teach how to be ’British’. Of course, Britain may have some values which are not held by every other country, such as human rights, however, asylum seekers to this country often flee their own country because of terror caused by abuse of human rights, and so they probably do not need to be taught to accept these values. I think there is a difference between British values and traditional British culture, such as fish and chips, and the Queen’s speech, which we shouldn’t try to enforce on everyone.”


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