The Latymer Link - page 2

T
his is a phrase often in the media these days. In November 2014 schools were issued with guidance on a
new duty; to ‘actively promote’ the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty,
and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs.
Schools have always had the primary responsibility to keep students safe and to have regard to their health
and safety. News stories about “radicalisation” of some young people who attend some schools have given
all those working in education pause for thought. Latymer staff and governors attend, on a three yearly basis,
training on how to keep students safe; the latest day of training, attended by almost 200, was in June.
Latymer staff are never complacent and always take seriously responsibilities wider than providing top-quality
lessons. The values emphasised by the latest guidance are not uniquely British and, I argue, already permeate
the ethos of the school. It is no bad thing to consider them again.
Democracy: A school is not a democracy; Maureen Cobbett, my successor, wasn’t elected by students, but
soliciting and listening to views of students and staff was certainly an aspect of the governing body’s selection
process. The General Election in May caught the attention of the whole school community with hustings in
two whole school assemblies and a mock election organised, and counted, by students.
The rule of law: The law applies inside as well as outside schools. Latymer has few “rules”, relying instead on
the inherent good sense and self-discipline of students. Nevertheless, if something does go wrong, students
are content to accept responsibility for their actions and the decisions of others on any consequences.
Individual liberty: Students are not free to do anything they please. But flair, individuality, self-expression, a
proper measure of self-esteem, are encouraged in lessons and in many other aspects of school life.
Mutual respect and tolerance: According to visitors and those who know the school well, this is a key
characteristic of Latymer. In classes there is a climate, insisted upon by staff and warmly welcomed by
students, of respectful attention to views of others, even if they are diametrically opposed to one’s own.
Latymer is a London school, with a modern, forward-looking outlook. We do indeed fulfil the duty to promote
important fundamental values.
Mark Garbett
From the Head
British Values
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