British values, equality and diversity – 2016-17 sessions for SCITT and School Direct trainees


These two highly interactive and lively sessions will enable trainees to feel confident about how they can promote and teach ‘British values’, promote equality and celebrate diversity in a practical way with many ideas and resources to use within their class and school.

These workshops (lasting three hours each) will provide your trainees with a good understanding of these challenging areas, but also build confidence to tackle difficult and complex issues when they arise.

Session 1 – Can you teach British values? Yes – and here’s how…

  • includes dozens of inspiring ideas and activities on how to promote ‘British values’
  • scenarios on dealing confidently with challenging incidents and advice on how to apply the ‘Prevent’ strategy
  • inspiring ideas on teaching the Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural curriculum

Session 2 – Promoting Equality & Celebrating Diversity

  • includes workshop exercises and case studies on a range of issues addressed by the Equality Act
  • scenarios on dealing confidently to promote inclusion
  • practical ideas and activities on how to promote equality and celebrate diversity

Session fees (plus travel expenses):

  • £330 for one three hour session or
  • £500 for both sessions on the same day

To discuss or arrange a presentation or ask any questions, please contact alan.newland29a@gmail.com or call 020 8372 6382 or 07824 398144.

Alan Newland worked as a teacher, an ITT lecturer at a university and as a headteacher in London for over 23 years and then for over 12 years as a senior advisor at the DfE and the GTC. He now lectures on teaching and runs the award-winning social media network newteacherstalk.   You can follow him on Twitter at @newteacherstalk.  His book “Working in Teaching” (Crimson Publishing) was published in March 2014.

 

What tutors and trainees have said about Alan Newland and the ‘British values’ sessions in recent months:

I had little understanding of ‘British values’ but now I feel much more confident and lead on this for whole school initiatives!  Rohima Begum. Rosetta Primary School London E16

Thanks Alan! Everyone at the sessions rated it either ‘Very good’ or ‘Excellent’.     Claire James, ELASCITT, Plaistow, London – May 2016

Thank you very much for your input to our training programme last week. The trainees valued the session very highly – the average rating was a maximum 4.  I have attached their comments. I would be very happy to include this session in our programme next year and now interested in your other sessions too.    Lincolnshire TSA – March 2016

Doing all three sessions we thought it might be too much, but not at all. The trainees had an excellent day – thanks Alan!    Mersey Boroughs SCITT – January 2016

The trainees went away feeling uplifted and it was exactly what they needed. And, for me, it was good to have your wisdom and experience. I learnt a lot.    Louise Leigh, Director, King Edward’s Consortium, Birmingham. (November 2015)

Just a note to thank you very much for an excellent presentation on Monday- really positive feedback from the trainees.     Dylan Gwyer-Roberts, Director of School Direct & PGCE at Bath Spa University (September 2015)

 

What trainees have said recently:

June 2016 at York Pathfinder TSA

  • A fantastic, relaxed and extremely engaging session that challenged our thoughts and ideas which then inspires and enables our own teaching. I loved hearing about Alan’s own experiences too.
  • I was challenged and engaged throughout. The booklet was really useful as a collection of activities, there was a clear structure and I enjoyed the activities.
  • Excellent pack of resources to take away. Great examples of how to prepare yourself for difficult and challenging situations with pupils.
  • Very useful activities and resources. Good discussion and debate. I have a good idea what is meant by ‘British values’ now.

January 2016 at the Mersey Boroughs SCITT

  • Brilliant discussions and really enjoyable – allowed me to reflect on issues I hadn’t thought of. I was really looking forward to the afternoon session too!
  • Thought provoking, lots of information and motivating.
  • Alan did a brilliant job. Fantastic day! Thank you!
  • Alan is a really inspirational speaker and the sessions were challenging, engaging and really pushed us to think and form our opinions through lots of great group discussions.
  • Great talk from Alan – clearly very knowledgeable and approachable.
  • Brilliant information. Enjoyed all the discussions. Fantastic interactive session!
  • Very re-assuring and very inspirational. Great session.
  • Very helpful, inspiring and motivational – the entire day was excellent. Alan’s pace and knowledge was excellent.

January 2016 at the Oxon-Bucks SCITT

  • Really excellent presentation – very helpful for our careers. Good knowledge, inspiring speaker, great advice.
  • I really enjoyed this session. Well delivered. Probably the most important session for a while.
  • Very engaging and interesting – thanks.

November 2015 at the Suffolk & Norfolk SCITT

  • Loved the series of lectures today! Alan is amazing!
  • The whole day was brilliant and very engaging. I enjoyed asking questions of my own beliefs – only then can we teach the children – but it was also re-assuring. He kept it real and allayed our fears. Thank you so much.
  • Brilliant – amazing teaching, knowledge and experience in this field. I learned how to integrate SMSC activities into the classroom and whole school.
  • Fantastic session – very well delivered, he kept it interesting all day – really nice, funny man, challenged us to think with lots of really interesting debates and discussions and lots to take back to the classroom.
  • Excellent session – very thought-provoking – thank you!
  • Great ideas about how to teach British values and the SMSC curriculum I am going to try “20 Questions on Values” as soon as I get back to school!
  • Thoroughly enjoyed the session today – great lecturer – gave me confidence in my knowledge and teaching.
  • The activities engaged me instantly. They got me thinking and related to me and my experiences.

 

Are you a SCITT struggling with recruitment? A recruitment video like this might solve your problems:

 

 

 

 

These children are British.


In the wake of the some truly terrible news over the last few weeks, I went to work with a very talented and committed teacher in an east London primary school – feeling more than a little depressed about the state of the world we were bringing children up in.

The teacher, Rohima Begum, had asked me into her Year 6 class to do some activities that would promote an understanding of British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance for those with different faiths and beliefs.

We started the day looking at rights and responsibilities.

Firstchildren’s rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and then their responsibilities’ to spread those rights to other children around the UK and the world.

By the end of the day, I not only came away from the school with a huge smile on my face but I felt genuinely inspired and moved by what these children said, wrote, painted and what they pledged and intended to do with their lives.

It made me feel very proud that these children – are British.

 

Article 30            

You have the right to practice your own culture, language and religion – or any you choose.

 

I sit on the floor, crossed legs, hands together.

My friends tell me it is nonsense!

I say: “It’s called my religion.”

 

The next day I walk to school.

My friends just say I’m pure nonsense!

I say: “It’s my culture to wear this.”

 

The bell rings loud. Pupils march forward proud,

My teacher tells me I am talking nonsense.

I say: “It’s my language.”

 

After school I walk home,

Only to find a boy

Calling out: “Stranger! Weird! You don’t belong!”

Victor

It is my responsibility to help people have the right to choose their own religion. I will try to achieve this by speaking up – on the radio and everywhere – and try to start a campaign to help children afford an education that will teach them to stand up for their rights.

 

 

You have the right to practice your own… CULTURE!

You have the right to practice your own… LANGUAGE!

You have the right to practice your own… RELIGION!

We are all DIFFERENT in our own UNIQUE way.

Some of us are black, white, mixed race,

But we shouldn’t be treated differently!

We should be treated EQUALLY

I am different and accept that

And we all should RESPECT that!

Manar

I will learn to speak English, French, Arabic and Spanish and I will speak up about rights to all children around the world and raise awareness and start a campaign and tell all the media.

 

  

Article 24            

You have the right to the health care, safe water to drink, nutritious food to eat and a clean and safe environment to help you stay well.

 

I should have the right to have medication for my needs,

Freedom of speech to voice my opinion and not be attacked for it,

Have nutritious meals to keep me healthy.

I should have the right not to be alienated from other people,

For the colour of my skin does not define me as a person.

I have the right to be me!

I should not be me and face discrimination for it.

Joelle

I want to sign a petition and start a charity to send school supplies to countries in need. I will be an advocate for young women around the world.

 

 

Article 7            

You have the right to a name and you have the right to belong to a country.

 

Everybody tries to put me in a box,

Tell me to be different,

To be something that I’m not.

I have a right to be alive,

To have a name

And a family.

I’m not going to break any rules,

But I’m going to make my point.

Do you know why?

Because I’m original.

Original!

I’m certified unique,

100% a masterpiece,

I believe I’m right!

I’m original!

Original! Original! Original!

Tahsin

I believe everyone should have their rights and a voice to be heard. I will pledge to start campaigns, sign petitions and create websites so children know and have their rights.

 

 

Article 38            

You have the right to protection and freedom from war.

 

In my perspective, I believe every child in the world deserves a right to peace. Nevertheless, unfortunately some children across the globe do not have the things that we have at the moment. Some children in Great Britain take this for granted.

We have rights to have a voice, we have opinions and nobody can take that away from us. We have freedom and are protected to be who we want to be.

But Syrian children and all over Asia and Africa have been deprived and separated from their parents.

This is us! We are children!

Chimdiya

I pledge to ensure that we assist and supply deprived children across the globe. I will try and set up a campaign or a charity to help children around the world. I will speak to our local mayor or councillor for our voices to be heard.

 

Article 12            

You have the right to give your opinion, and for adults to listen and take it seriously.

 

Every child has the right to an opinion and for their parents to listen to them, such as – if your parents go to vote in the EU Referendum you can try to persuade them to leave or remain. My mum and dad wanted to remain but I tried to preside them to leave so that we could spend more money on hospitals to take care of others such as health and injections and medicines.

Rio

My responsibility is to look after others, especially other children.

 

Article 7            

You have the right to a name and you have the right to belong to a country.

 

You have a right to a name, no matter your colour.

I have the right to a name, no matter my colour.

Because I am a child and so are you!

You have the right to live in a country with your own language.

I have the right to live in my country with my own language.

Because I am a child and so are you!

Libby-J

I will take responsibility for what I do. I will start a charity and teach others why we should have these rights and responsibilities, because we all need these. I am going to spread this around the world and start at the Royal Docks.

 

 

You have a name

It is your right

To belong to a country

To have a life.

You might be original,

You might be unique,

But that’s what makes you, YOU!

Have an identity,

Let everyone know you’re in our world,

That you are a child and

Nobody has the right to tell you who you are.

Shaunna

I will take responsibility to be a fundraiser to help people notice what happens around the world so we realise what happens. We are fortunate but not everyone is the same.

 

 

Article 14            

You have the right to choose your own religion and beliefs.

 

Once upon a time there was a little boy who was a Muslim. One morning he went to school and children started bullying him. One took his pocket money. His mum and dad were angry so they went to school to talk to the teachers. After that the other children became his friend and played with him.

Kwasi

 

 

Article 42            

You have the right to know your rights and you have a responsibility to tell other children about these rights too.

 

Every child, every heart is unique!

Every child should have their own rights.

Some of us are white. Some of us are black.

It doesn’t matter if you are Christian, Muslim or Hindu,

Nobody can tell you what you are,

You are what you are!

You are a Somebody,

Not a Nobody!

Blessing

I’m going to help the deprived people of the world by giving them starter packs. Each school in Newham should be linked to deprived schools and give them starter packs with school supplies as well as health supplies.

 

 

Article 38            

You have the right to protection and freedom from war.

 

BANG! BANG! BOOM!

“You have to start fighting in the war!”

That was all I heard when I woke,

Straight away I knew what was going on,

War was about to begin.

I knew that my mother and father had died while trying to save me,

I survived by crawling into a building,

And now I’ve been here for years.

Marvellous

I believe that we should all put our stories together to make a book and send it to a publisher and spread it around the globe.

 

 

Article 6            

You have the right to be alive.

 

I am a child, I have aright to be alive,

To have a name, To explore the world

And to be who I am.

I am a child, I have a name,

I am Jodie.

I have a right, And so do you.

Don’t worry what everyone else thinks.

Just be yourself, Like I am.

It’s OK to be original.

Jodie

I believe that all children around the world should get a good education. This is what I am going to do – raise and give money so they can get the things they need.

 

 

Article 14            

You have the right to choose your own religion and beliefs.

 

One day a Muslim boy called Raj was getting bullied at school. The bullies said: “Why are you a Muslim? You and your fake God!” They gave him a black eye and took all his money and ran away. When he got home he told his mum and dad.

Iyo

I pledge to write to the Prime Minister and use media so that all people have a right to practice their own religion.

 

  

Article 23            

You have the right to special education and care if you have a disability, so that you can live a full life.

 

A full life? You can have a full life,

If you have the right education.

You might have a special need or a disability.

 You need to have freedom of speech and full care to live a full life.

We are different!

You need to speak up!

You’re unique!

Connor

I’m going to make a charity for people in poorer countries and spread the word on radio and social media.

 

 

Article 38            

You have the right to protection and freedom from war.

 

Why do I get forced to fight?  Do I not have rights?

I am no different to other people but still do things I don’t feel comfortable doing.

If I do not have rights, why do I have a beating heart?

Why?

My heart is nobody else’s.  My soul is my soul.  My rights are my rights.

 Wars are so dangerous but we don’t have to do it,  Getting forced by someone is not right.

Speak out loud about your rights!

Rebecca

My huge attempt will be to visit people in poor countries that should not be poor and create a fun day to remind them that they have rights too so they can feel needed, welcome and become proud of themselves.

 

 

Article 19            

You have the right to be protected from being hurt, in body or mind.

 

One day I was walking to the shops to buy something to play with at home and some big boys came and took my money and beat me up. I ran home and cried to my mum.

Ronny

In my opinion we should have a right to food and clean water and get protection from people who might beat us up.

Alan Newland worked as a teacher, teacher-trainer and headteacher in London for over 20 years and then for a decade with the DfE and the GTC. He now lectures on teaching professionalism and runs the award-winning social media network newteacherstalk. You can follow him on Twitter at @newteacherstalk and book him for a talk. His book “Working in Teaching” (Crimson Publishing) was published in March 2014.

 

Why Jo Cox was putting Britain first and why teachers should too.


Jo Cox, the Member of Parliament for Batley and Spen was murdered on Thursday listening to her assassin allegedly shouting at her: “Put Britain first!”

Though I am a fairly avid observer of politics and current affairs, I had never heard of Jo Cox. Now that I know what kind of person she was and the values she held, I don’t think I will ever forget her.

But for me, the terrible irony of her murderer’s words “Put Britain first” is that, that’s exactly what Jo Cox was doing.

Let me explain.

I do teacher-training sessions all over the country on ‘British values’ – this week I went to York, Lincoln and Bedfordshire.

I discuss ideas and practical activities with new teachers of how they can not only positively challenge discriminatory attitudes and behaviour but how they can promote ‘British values’ of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance for those with different faiths and beliefs. The sessions are lively, thought-provoking and fascinating – above all they are very challenging.

I don’t let anyone get away with expressing lazy clichés or untested ‘accepted wisdom’. I tell people they can relax about their awkward use of language and for a couple of hours I ask them to put aside so-called ‘political correctness’. I ask them to challenge themselves and each other about what they think their values are.

I ask questions like “What’s the one thing you would most like to change about the world?” “Why are you, you?” and “If you were forced to flee this country, which one would you go to?”

I ask them to select (from a list of over a hundred values) their most important personal values and then to reduce that list to just five – their one ‘fundamental’ values.

We discuss stereotypes and icons of ‘Britishness’. I ask them to compile a list of ‘British values’.  We do practical activities that explore questions like: “What makes you British?” I suggest ideas of how they can express this in their own terms.

I ask them to consider how so-called ‘universal values’ came about – like those expressed in the UN Rights of the Child or the UN Declaration of Human Rights – and what relevance they have to their personal lives and values.

By the end of the session, I hope these young teachers see how their values are made up of layers of real, ‘down to earth’ personal, family, community and society values as well as more idealistic and aspirational ones too.

But at the beginning of last week millions of British children were coming in to school with deep and fearful questions about why forty-nine gay, lesbian and transgender people were killed in Orlando. By the end of that week the same children – millions of them – had similar questions about why Jo Cox was murdered.

The answers we give to those difficult questions goes to the heart of why we must teach children to value democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance for those with different faiths and beliefs.

It is perfectly understandable why teachers feel they have no confidence in teaching these so-called ‘British values’, let alone tackling difficult issues and questions when they arise – as they did last week – and will continue to do. But I believe we must try – with the same courage and vigor Jo Cox showed going about her constituency.

Now that I know a little more about Jo Cox and her values, I am convinced that she had a very deep and passionate commitment to British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and perhaps especially, tolerance for those with different faiths and beliefs.

She believed, as I do and as every teacher should, that these values are not held up to impose the will of an establishment or a majority on a minority but they are held up to protect us all; they are not held up to restrict but to enhance, they are not held up to diminish but to fulfill – all our lives.

The terrible and distressingly tragic irony of her loss is that she was trying to uphold and extend those values to all of her constituents when she died – including the lonely, the isolated, the voiceless, the unemployed and the mentally ill – and even to the man who killed her.

So I believe, I really, really believe that Jo Cox was fundamentally trying to put Britain first.

Alan Newland worked as a teacher, teacher-trainer and headteacher in London for over 20 years and then for a decade with the DfE and the GTC. He now lectures on teaching professionalism and runs the award-winning social media network newteacherstalk. You can follow him on Twitter at @newteacherstalk and book him for a talk. His book “Working in Teaching” (Crimson Publishing) was published in March 2014.

This is the kind of school I want all our children to go to. If you are thinking of teaching as a career, train here…

Why don’t Black people want to teach?


It’s not just Black people either, it’s just as true with most minority ethnic groups. There is not much research done on this (curiously) but the most recent research I’ve come across suggests that there is still less than 5% of teachers nationally in the UK that are black, Asian and minority ethnic (BME). Yet the country (by the last census in 2011) is over 9% BME and the school-age population is around 14% BME.

That’s not all – you only have to go round the country as I do, and you’ll see that most of that 5% of BME teachers are concentrated in places like London and the West Midlands – so that leaves large areas of the country with very few (if any) BME teachers at all.

I don’t think I need to explain why this is a problem. Of course it is. All kids of all ethnicities need good role models as teachers from every background, ethnicity, religion, culture and from both genders too.

Some black and Asian colleagues tell me that “teaching is not a high status profession in their community.” If that’s true I am both confused and dismayed by that, largely because I know that teachers are highly regarded and respected in (particularly first generation) Caribbean, African and Asian communities. So why not teaching?

But what are we doing about it? Some people are doing precious little as far as I can see. I go to teacher training centres both large and small in every part of England. I go to some large universities in our biggest cities with enormous cohorts of trainee teachers and see only a handful of BME trainees – usually I can count them on the fingers of one hand. Yet in the 1990s when I taught at (what was then) the University of North London (now London Met), we pioneered Access courses to teaching in areas of high BME concentration, we advertised teaching as a profession in the BME press and media, we even designed a PGCE course that targeted people who spoke a second language to target those with bilingual skills. Where there is a will, there is a way.

Take a look at this video. This small school-based training provider in east London has both the will and the way – and not only that, the candidates and trainees are excellent too.

Alan Newland worked as a teacher, teacher-trainer and headteacher in London for over 20 years and then for a decade with the DfE and the GTC. He now lectures on teaching professionalism and runs the award-winning social media network newteacherstalk. You can follow him on Twitter at @newteacherstalk and book him for a talk. His book “Working in Teaching” (Crimson Publishing) was published in March 2014.

Why don’t men want to teach?


It’s not true of course. Some do. I did for many years, but the reality is that the teaching profession in the UK is overwhelmingly female, about 72%. In primary education, it’s even worse, over 90%. When I was at the GTC (where we registered qualified teachers and monitored trends) we go to the point in 2009 where there was only one qualified practicing male nursery teacher in the whole of England.

I also see it in the talks I do around the country – some audiences of trainee teachers have barely a man among them – even at some of our large university training centres with cohorts of hundreds.

I ask the question ‘Why don’t men want to teach?’ but really you don’t have to go far for the answer. Ask any man training to be a teacher – as I do – and they will tell you that teaching is seen largely as a ‘feminised profession’ and that the so-called ‘soft skills’ of communication, empathy and emotional intelligence are often considered to be better developed and honed in the female of the species – and this is the view of those who have already had the courage to overcome that notion and entered the training to be a teacher.

Of course I contest all that with them. I think it’s all rubbish. But it’s a widespread misconception about why women might be better suited to teaching than men. Yet men have advantages in the profession that women don’t. Women are regularly discriminated against – especially when women go on maternity leave or take an extended break from the job to focus on their family – they rarely come back to the same job, responsibility or status. There may be fewer men in teaching, but they ‘get on’ far better when it comes to career progression.

But in the last ten years or so, I’ve also noticed a very disturbing trend that has further exacerbated this issue – it’s the fear many men have that they are vulnerable to accusations of inappropriate physical or sexualized contact. In my view, this is frightening away many potential male teachers, even before they get to thinking seriously about applying for teaching as a career.

Such an accusation – even if it is wholly unfounded – is absolutely catastrophic, not just for anyone in teaching but in one’s life beyond.

We are so worried about this now that teachers – especially men – are being regularly advised by colleagues and teacher unions ‘never to be alone with a child’ or ‘if you find yourself alone, go and ask a colleague to join you’ or ‘keep the classroom door open so you can be seen and heard’ – ‘advice’ that is largely impractical in the busy environment of a school, particularly a primary school and ‘advice’ that in reality can only be calculated to cause fear, alarm and suspicion.

When I try to re-assure my audiences that it is ‘not against the law to touch a child’ and that there are scores, if not hundreds of occasions on a daily basis when physical contact with children is appropriate, necessary and even desirable – for example, to demonstrate a teaching point or meet the learning needs of a child (let alone their emotional needs for comfort or distress) I often get a variety of resistant responses, and they are nearly always from the men.

They will tell me straight out that they would not dare touch children in any way, let alone ways that might be necessary, even to comfort, console or congratulate a child. It’s too risky they say. It might be construed as something else… or a emotionally or psychologically ‘damaged’ child might make an accusation and then… that’s the end of their career.

If all this is true, we are not only living with the consequences of a psychotically fearful society but we are stoking that fear and suspicion even more by giving ‘advice’ that is both irrational and fundamentally cancerous to the professional confidence of teachers and the self esteem of children.

If we don’t arrest this psychopathic trend the results will be catastrophic for our profession let alone for normal human interaction.

But it need not be all doom and gloom. Like many things in education – it’s a leadership issue. Just take a look at the 4-minute video I made at this school-based training centre in East London (below) and see how confident these men are – all of whom are new to teaching or in training. It’s inspiring to watch how good they are.

Alan Newland worked as a teacher, teacher-trainer and headteacher in London for over 20 years and then for a decade with the DfE and the GTC. He now lectures on teaching professionalism and runs the award-winning social media network newteacherstalk. You can follow him on Twitter at @newteacherstalk and book him for a talk. His book “Working in Teaching” (Crimson Publishing) was published in March 2014.

Your values. British values.


Could you say whether your values as a teacher are British values?

You might find Ofsted asking that question one day.

It’s a contentious issue. Lots of people, even if they are able to articulate their own personal values struggle to articulate what ‘British values’ are. Some will challenge outright the notion of ‘British values’ at all, (though personally, I think it’s a distinctly British value that the British are uncomfortable even talking about British values. I don’t think you’d see Americans or even the French expressing such reticence).

Be that as it may, I was doing a training session with some trainee teachers on ‘fundamental British values’ a few weeks ago in the north of England. I was asking the trainees to reflect on how their own personal values cohere or contrast with the ‘fundamental British values’ as defined by the Department for Education as “democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance for those with different faiths and beliefs”.

One trainee, a young hijab-wearing Muslim woman training at a predominantly Muslim school in Bradford, said to me: “I was doing Romeo and Juliet with my Year 9s last week. I was really hammering on about the concept of individual liberty as understood in Shakespeare’s time and in modern times and how concepts around the individual liberty have changed. I wanted to get across to my students how it is their right and their individual liberty to choose their own marriage partner. We discussed dating sites, Tinder, arranged marriage, forced marriage, divorce, bigamy and related the relevant issues to the drama being played out by Romeo and Juliet and their warring families. I realise now that I was teaching my own values. I really wanted to get across to the students, the girls especially, what their individual liberties are. Now I think I was teaching British values as well.”

The following week I was in Bath with a similar group of trainees asking similar questions about how easy or hard it is to integrate personal, professional (and even political) values.

One student said that he wanted to be an art teacher because he truly believed that the pursuit of art could only be achieved when one understood that art was a fundamental expression of oneself to others. He said that true art could not be achieved without understanding the primacy of one’s individual right and liberty to express oneself in whatever way one chose, even if that caused offence and shock.

At first he didn’t think this had anything at all to do with so called ‘fundamental British values’. Indeed he thought at first, that his understanding of artistic expression ran counter to any idea of so-called ‘British values’.

But then he stopped and reflected, thought for a moment and concluded by saying that he realised that he wouldn’t have had the right to express his art or teach his students they had a right to artistic expression had he been a teacher in Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union, let alone the so-called Islamic State.

What are your values? Are they British values too?

Alan Newland worked as a teacher, teacher-trainer and headteacher in London for over 20 years and then for a decade with the DfE and the GTC. He now lectures on teaching professionalism and runs the award-winning social media network newteacherstalk. You can follow him on Twitter at @newteacherstalk and book him for a talk. His book “Working in Teaching” (Crimson Publishing) was published in March 2014.

The (British) values David Bowie gave us


Aladdin Sane.tif

Aladdin Sane.tif

I was never a mad David Bowie fan, though I liked his music and admired his creative genius. Anyone who saw him perform live or saw the show of his designs at the V&A a couple of years ago couldn’t doubt that.

But after the announcement of his sad death at the age of sixty-nine, I’ve realised something about him that I think is really wonderful – that he epitomises fundamental aspects of what (I hope) it is to be British.

To millions of people across the world over decades he gave people the confidence to be different, odd and quirky. He gave people confidence about their strange and original thought. He gave people confidence to see the world differently – through music, art and even their own sex and sexuality.

He gave people – perhaps men particularly – confidence to break out of the constraints of gender and express the ambiguous nature of their sex and sexuality through performance, dress and make-up.

I think therefore, he helped us appreciate some fundamental values we now take for granted – particularly the values we now share about gender, sexuality, identity and the right to musical and artistic expression.

That’s the nature of values in a free society – particularly those like individual liberty and tolerance – we soon take them for granted and forget where they came from and who fought to establish them for the rest of us.

But the individual liberty and tolerance we take for granted around artistic expression is extremely fragile – you only have to go back as recently Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union to realise that. And how long do you think someone like David Bowie would last under the so-called ‘Islamic State’?

In my view, David Bowie gave us something every bit as valuable as democracy and the rule of law.

He gave us the right to be ourselves and to live and let live – as unique, strange and odd a concept as that may be or may appear – and that is individual liberty and tolerance of the deepest and most fundamental kind. And (I hope) if that’s not being British, then I don’t know what is.

Alan Newland worked as a teacher, teacher-trainer and headteacher in London for over 20 years and then for a decade with the DfE and the GTC. He now lectures on teaching professionalism and runs the award-winning social media network newteacherstalk. You can follow him on Twitter at @newteacherstalk and book him for a talk. His book “Working in Teaching” (Crimson Publishing) was published in March 2014.