Teaching British Values in EYFS

November 20, 2018 12:00 am
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What are British Values, and how can you bring them into your childcare setting?

Actively promoting and teaching British Values in EYFS is a hot topic in the world of childcare, particularly since the launch of Ofsted’s new Common Inspection Framework in 2015.

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is a legal government framework used in early years settings. Its aim is to encourage every child’s healthy development and readiness for future learning. The new SMSC Quality Mark for Primary and Secondary Schools also aims to help schools recognise and review the development of SMSC, which includes British Values.

So it’s evident that teaching these values from a young age is a big deal and shouldn’t be ignored.

To make this article easier to understand we have broken it down into six sections that cover what the British Values are and how you can teach them through some of the seven areas of development.

1. What are British Values as detailed by Ofsted?
2. Bringing British Values into your setting
3. Teaching British Values through literacy in the EYFS
4. Teaching British Values through understanding the world
5. Teaching British Values through physical development
6. Teaching British Values through rule making

1. What are British Values as detailed by Ofsted?

According to Ofsted, the following British Values must be incorporated and demonstrated through EYFS learning and play:
• Democracy
• The rule of law
• Individual liberty
• Mutual respect and tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs

To elaborate, in order to incorporate democracy, we must showcase everyone being treated equally and having equal rights.

In the early years, it is all about teaching children that their opinions are important and that each child’s thoughts and feelings should be listened to and valued.

It’s also important to teach children that sometimes they will be given the power to choose and will make decisions on their own and in groups.

You can promote democracy in your setting daily by:

Having a daily choice board – give children the option to choose which activities they are going to do during the morning session. Encourage them to respect each other’s decisions and discuss how children feel when the activity they would like isn’t chosen for that session. If there are some children that cannot verbally communicate well, use picture cards.
Story time – lay out a selection of books and ask children to vote to show hands for which one they would prefer to listen to.
Turn-taking – this can be done in a variety of ways through games, letters and sounds activities and times when there are limited resources.
Emotions – help children to identify their emotions and talk about reasons for these emotions. Think about having some emotions cards in the setting so that children that cannot verbalise their feelings can still share them. Identifying emotions is an important step in children being able to manage their emotions.

Mutual respect and tolerance for others are about treating other people how you would like to be treated and learning to understand and appreciate each other’s differences, without allowing those differences to cause a change in the treatment of any sort.

It’s about being a part of a community where not everyone is the same and forming relationships within a community without discrimination. The environment in your setting should be inclusive, respectful and value faiths, cultures and races.

To help promote mutual respect it is important that practitioners focus on behaviour such as sharing and respecting others’ opinions, in early years there are many opportunities for practitioners to encourage sharing, this can be achieved with most activities.

You can promote respect and tolerance in your setting by:

• Encouraging children to share stories of their home that reflect the values and the diversity of their experiences.
• Provide resources and activities that challenge gender, cultural and racial stereotyping.
• Try and take the children on visits that engage with the wider community, such as to an elderly people’s home or religious festival.

It’s not just about having different diverse resources in your setting, it’s about actively promoting respect and tolerance.
Ensure that children understand their own and others’ behaviour and its consequences and help them to distinguish right from wrong by promoting ‘the rule of law’.

You can promote the rule of law in your setting daily by:

  • Working with the children to create rules and codes of behaviour, such as agreeing on rules about tidying up, and also ensuring children understand that the rules apply to everyone.
  • Invite a policeman to visit and learn about ‘people who help us’ and the laws and rules that we need to follow.
  • Have a set of ‘house rules’ making sure you model this behaviour by following these rules too.
  • Try and help children to understand their actions and the consequences. For example, by explaining to them how something they have done might have made another child feel instead of just asking them to say ‘sorry’.

Finally, individual liberty requires children to understand and value their own self and to gain confidence in making choices. Self-esteem, self-confidence and self-awareness are key.

You can promote individual liberty in your setting daily by:

  • Providing opportunities for risk-taking such as obstacle courses for children to develop their self-knowledge, and self-esteem and increase their confidence in their own abilities.
  • Encouraging a range of experiences that allow children to explore the language of feelings and responsibility, reflect on their differences and understand everyone is free to have different opinions.
  • Providing activities and opportunities such as mixing their own colours for leaf painting and taking part in races on the setting’s sports day. This helps children to develop a positive sense of themselves and increases their confidence and own abilities.
  • Have group discussions about how the children may feel about the activities they did today or the story at storytime. Allow them to voice their own feelings and understand that they are free to have different opinions.

“We celebrate British Values in practice and ensure that we embrace our citizenship and the diverse culture we are so lucky to be a part of.”

2. Bringing British Values into your setting…

Our British Values Flashcards are dedicated to teaching children British Values in short, punchy bursts. The British Values in this set of A5 flashcards have been broken down into these twelve key areas:
• Celebrated days
• Community
• Food and drink
• Law
• Manners
• Music and art
• Respect
• Seasons
• Table etiquette
• The world
• Tolerance

Not only do they incorporate the five staple values as previously mentioned, but there is also an idea to celebrate British culture and appreciate characteristics and traits that make Britain British. They allow you to expand on the five values and also make teaching them easier for children to understand.

These flashcards also get used to build a display within settings, as they come as part of a pack which includes posters and activity sheets! View Here!

However, if you don’t have room for an entire display, then the British Values Calendar is perfect as it has been designed to be more than just a calendar. It is also a teaching aid which gives simple visual summaries to inspire your teaching of British values within your daily activities all year-round. Each month focuses on a different value, and the calendar itself has important dates pre-entered throughout the year!

Additionally, the British Values Poster is designed as a teaching aid and simple visual summary to inspire your teaching of British Values within your daily activities.
British Values can be taught in many different ways – here are some suggestions for you to incorporate into your classroom.

3. Teaching British Values through literacy in EYFS

Ideas on how to celebrate British authors and poets:
• Choose a British writer to focus on each month (for example, William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens or JK Rowling) – their work will then theme your month.
• Read their work aloud and discuss their importance to British heritage; you could also set additional reading as homework.
• Discuss what impact British authors have had on our culture. See if you can work out their contribution to Britain and literature. This can be constantly addressed each month with each new author.
• Find a local book or poetry reading to involve your children in your community and allow them to experience new ideas, feelings and greater self-awareness of the world around them (you’ll also be ticking off another British Value for Ofsted: Individual Liberty)

Reading works from these authors alongside authors from other cultures is a brilliant way to further promote mutual respect and tolerance for others. Actively encouraging discussion following any reading will further enable you to support your children’s understanding of the British Value of mutual respect and tolerance towards each others’ opinions.

To help teach British Values through literacy in your setting, Nursery Resources have created free flashcards and activity sheets for you to download and utilise.

4. Teaching British Values through Understanding the World

Discussing and cooking British foods can be a huge part of teaching children British Values, but also an incredibly fun, interactive (and messy) activity. Embracing British food alongside cuisine from around the world is a perfect opportunity for your children to also learn about and understand other cultures and traditions. Ideas for this include:

• Discuss your children’s favourite meals with them, and then research which cultures they originated in.
• Discuss both traditional British meals and meals from other cultures.
• If you have children from other parts of the world in your setting, this is a brilliant opportunity to involve them in talking about their national dishes and what they eat at home.

Food acts as the doorway to different cultures that children may not ordinarily look through. To enhance your discussions, try cooking traditional British food as well as cuisines from other cultures as a group activity.

To aid in exploring British foods and cuisines from other cultures, you can download our free recipe cards – perfect for your setting to get stuck in. Download Here!

5. Teaching British Values through Physical Development

Here is a wonderful suggestion on how you can utilise music, drama, and dance (collectively known as expressive arts) to teach British Values to your children:
• Put together a playlist of songs by British artists and those by artists from different cultures.
• Encourage your children to move and dance along with the song.
• Ask them which songs were their favourites and why.
• Talk about the instruments used in the songs and how the songs are influenced by the culture.

Following that, you can set lessons around different cultures with the introductory feature being the songs you recently listened to and their instruments or musical style.

For suggestions on what songs you can play to get started, take a look at our free downloadable flashcards and activity sheet – where you can encourage your children to guess which song you are playing to see how well they can associate certain sounds or words with what is written down.

Download our Songs from British/Other Cultures flashcards and activity sheets for your setting.

Hold a Sports Day with Different Sports from Around the World

This is a perfect opportunity to link British history with the rest of the world.

For example, did you know that the origins of Britain’s most popular sport, football, can be traced back to ancient China? But of course, you can then look into sports such as Tennis and Cricket which were both invented in England.

You’re actively teaching British Values, sports for physical education, and history – all at the same time!

Before your sports day, you should also discuss how sport influences many cultures; perhaps speaking about how Manchester United (a football team in the north of England) has more supporters in Asia (325 million) and in the Middle East and Africa (173 Million) than they do in Europe (90 million).

The key here is researching and choosing the right sports to include in your sports day. Or you can simply download our sports factsheets, complete with:
• Information about the cultural origins of the sports
• Facts about how far the sport influences other cultures
• Instructions on how to set up and play a game of the sport

Click HERE to download our free resource to assist you in teaching British Values through sports from British culture and other cultures in the shape of a fun fact sheet.

6. Teaching British Values through Rule Making

This suggestion is an engaging activity that teaches the children of your setting ‘the rule of law’.

Introduce a new rule to your setting, but let the children help you decide what the repercussions for breaking this rule might be.
The new rule could be anything. It could be a rule that you are actually going to implement or just one for the purpose of this exercise to last a week.

Here are a few ideas you could use:
• We must always pack away our books and toys once we have finished with them.
• Try and walk into the setting with a smile every single morning.
• We should raise our hand before we speak.
• We should always listen to each other when we are sharing ideas and stories, and should not interrupt.
• We must never say I can’t.

To make the discussion more interesting you could choose a selection of rules and first discuss which of the rules are ‘fair’ and which aren’t. It is also important to establish why the rule is important and its purpose. This way, they also learn the true significance of this British Value.

Once settled, encourage your children to determine a punishment for each rule (whilst you simultaneously discuss the foundations of democracy). What seems like an appropriate response to a child breaking the rule(s)? Do all children agree? Are we able to make sure that punishments are handed out fairly? Who decides if a child has broken a rule and why? You have many avenues you can venture down!

An Expert’s View on Teaching British Values in EYFS

EYFS expert Samantha Cornwell, from Munchkins Kindergarten in Spalding, Lincolnshire, shares her experiences of teaching British Values in early years:

“At Munchkins, we make sure to celebrate all festivals and cultural celebrations, particularly British. We also try to include this in meals and make sure that the children eat a variety of foods from around the world. We always spend a term looking at ‘all around the world’ where we look at clothes, foods, music, celebrations and traditions.
We try really hard to involve the children in community events such as our local pumpkin parade (a celebration of our local heritage), Christmas celebrations in town, community Easter hunts as well at the Cresent’s (our local independent shopping area) organised activities that are occasionally held. We take the children for walks and trips to get out and about in the community too – from farm trips to trips to feed the ducks or go to the park. With our older children, we try to explain why we do different things and the importance of British Values when working on ‘all about me’.
Other activities include promoting good manners, kindness and respect to the children.”

FREE Resources to help you promote British Values

We’ve created some brilliant free resources that can really help with the teaching of British Values in your setting. If you missed the link in the article it can be yours by simply clicking the button below!


These British Values Resources have been created to help and support early years settings actively promote British values, with a bundle including multiple activity sheets, flashcards, and wall displays. Starting from as little as £9.99, pack bundles are available in bronze, silver, or gold, depending on the size of your setting.

More information on teaching British Values in EYFS

Parenta – How to promote British Values in your setting

Early Years Careers – How Early Years setting can promote British Values

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