British Values in the Early Years – What do they mean?

British Values has been implicitly within the Early year’s foundation stage statutory framework since 2014. The Early Years foundation stage statutory framework is the standards that schools, and childcare providers must meet for learning, development and care of children from birth to 5.

‘Fundamental British Values’ is part of the statutory prevent guidance that all childcare providers need to follow.

There are four British Values childcare providers must promote. All four values fit somewhere within the categories of Personal, Social and Physical Development as well as Understanding the World. Like everything else in childcare, promoting the British Values will require taking different approaches for different ages:

Younger Children: Focusing on promoting the more general concepts with the EYFS knowing that their development within these areas is key to promoting the values in the long term.

Older Children: Looking more explicitly at the values and come up with ideas more closely tied into the values themselves.


In the Ofsted inspection framework, it now states that inspectors will make a judgement on how settings are ‘actively promoting British Values’. The Ofsted Inspection Handbook also explicitly mentions ‘British Values’ in both the Outstanding and Inadequate judgements.


The Fundamental British Values are Democracy, Rule of Law, Individual Liberty and Mutual Respect and tolerance for those with different faiths.


Think of Democracy as a situation where everyone is treated equally and has equal rights.

Within all nursery’s it is important to support children’s personal, social and emotional development by giving them opportunities to develop their self-awareness and self-confidence. This should encourage them to make choices and decisions about what they want to explore and how they’re going to use the resources accessible to them.


Scallywags and Democracy

As our team plan different days, we always ensure activities are child focused. Making sure everyone gets the same opportunities, but also that the activities are tailored to individual interests.

Children at Scallywags are encouraged to choose an activity they would like to take part in. In turn, this helps us to create a ‘theme’ for the month, ensuring activities are enjoyable for everyone.

Rule of Law

This is about understanding that rules matter.

Rule of law is about learning to manage their own feelings and behaviours as well as right from wrong. It’s about having children learning to behave within agreed and clearly defined boundaries and also dealing with any consequences that may occur.

To teach ‘Rule of Law’ ensure that children understand their own and others’ behaviours and its consequences and learn to distinguish right from wrong. Collaborate with children to create the rules and the codes of behaviour for example, agree the rules about tidying up and ensure that all children understand rules apply to everyone.


Scallywags and Rule of Law

At Scallywags Nursery, we incorporate British Values through our 5 golden rules for our older children (aged 3+).

Our Golden Rules include:

  • Using their manners
  • Sharing and Taking Turns
  • Listening when others are speaking
  • Playing nicely with toys and books
  • Kind hands, feet and bodies

Each year, our children take part in choosing the above values as part of Individual Liberty (below).

We also begin to introduce British Values earlier for children aged 2+, however, there are usually less, and the values are simpler.

Individual Liberty

For Individual Liberty, it’s important to focus on children’s self-confidence and self-awareness as well as people and communities.

Nurseries have a responsibility to help children to develop a positive sense of themselves. Every time we provide opportunities for children to gather wildflowers, mix their own colours for leaf painting or take part in a sack race, we are helping them to develop their self-knowledge, self-esteem and increase confidence in their own abilities.

Encourage a range of experiences that allow children to explore the language of feelings and responsibility, reflect on their difference and understand we are free to have different opinions.

Mutual Respect and Tolerance

Mutual Respect and Tolerance is where we learn to treat others as we want to be treated.

It’s important to teach children how to be part of a community, manage our feelings and behaviours and for relationships with others.

It’s important to create an ethos of inclusivity and tolerance where views, faiths, cultures and races are valued, and children are engaged with the wider community. Discuss similarities and differences between themselves, others and among families including discussing faiths, communities, cultures and traditions as well as share practices, celebrations and experiences.

Explain the important of tolerance behaviours such as sharing and respecting other’s opinions and promote diverse attitudes and challenge stereotypes. For example, share stories that reflect and value the diversity of children’s experiences and providing resources and activities that challenge gender, cultural and racial stereotypes.


Scallywags and Mutual Respect and Tolerance

It’s important for our Nursery to ensure we are promoting an understanding of the range of different religions, cultures and their celebrations from around the world. We usually do this by having the children participate in different activities including artwork, food tasting and dress up.

The toys we provide at Scallywags are also reflective of all religions and cultures, ensuring everyone has something to play with.


It’s important to ensure you’re not just doing the bare minimum to promote these values. For example, only having notices on the walls of multi-faith books on the shelves, will fall short of ‘actively promoting’ these values at your setting.