British values 'are more than pictures of the Queen,' says shadow Education Secretary

'That's not going to combat the jihadist ideology which we need to root out,' claims Tristram Hunt

Schools should be more sophisticated about the way they teach British values, Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt said yesterday. Too many just rely on sticking up pictures of the Queen and double-decker buses in the school hall, he told the London Festival of Education conference in London.

“They’ve got to go into it in a deeper and more sophisticated manner,” he said. “We have to think about it and what it means. It is not just a question of putting up pictures of Her Majesty the Queen and double-decker buses. That’s not going to combat the jihadist ideology which we need to root out in the East End of London and parts of Birmingham.”

The decision to insist all schools should teach British values and be inspected by Ofsted on how they approached it was taken last year by former Education Secretary, Michael Gove. It followed the “Trojan Horse” investigation into claims that hardline Islamic extremists took over the running of half a dozen Birmingham schools.

Asked how schools should try to prevent more young people following the three London schoolgirls who travelled to Syria to join Isis fighters, Mr Hunt said: “I don’t think there has been deep enough thinking about how schools have to have a whole school approach to the development and discussion of British values.”

Education minister Sam Gyimah, speaking at the same conference, described it as “an incredibly serious issue”. “All the evidence from the police so far is that the girls didn’t get radicalised at school,” he said.

“Schools aren’t responsible for children’s political views. Schools can teach children to be critical and to show respect for other people’s views and religion, and teach tolerance and about the democratic process.”