Brighton mum Alison Phipps has sent a wonderfully-sarcastic reply to her two-year-old son’s nursery after they emailed to inform her they would be teaching ‘British values’ in line with a government anti-radicalisation programme. In her message, Phipps expressed concern that “crying is particularly un-British. Especially in the baby room, there has not been enough done to ensure the development of a stiff upper lip.”
The Prevent scheme is part of the new Extremist Bill and has seen primary school children asked to fill in questionnaires in an attempt to ascertain whether they had developed extremist views. The programme has been criticised by opponents who say it is a way of criminalising and spying on Muslim children, alienating the community.
Phipps told i100.co.uk the nursery had told her it was planning a “risk assessment of the potential for radicalisation” and tweeted her open response letter, which stated “It wasn’t clear to me whether we are meant to be informing on each others’ children or just the other parents”. Presuming the former, she went on to mention her worries about the worship of Peppa Pig by toddlers and suggested filling babies’ bottles with tea as a keystone of their lessons on British values.
The nursery says it will concentrate on promoting topics like tolerance for those with different faiths and beliefs, the rule of law and democracy, which are all noble topics but the use of the phrase is ‘British values’ is a little troubling. That suggests that no one else in the world believes in these ethics and that all Britons have always respected them. There are swathes of this country’s past that do not live up to these standards and a key part of striving for a fairer future is to learn from the past, not whitewash it.
The fact is that these are ‘values’ not ‘British values’. Separation and demonisation are unhelpful and the idea that we are completely different from other humans is the sort of prejudice that terrorists use to justify their own actions.