Michael Buerk asks if there are such things as unique British values. Should they - can they - be taught in schools?
The 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta on the 15th of June next year has taken on a whole new level of importance and symbolism. It's now become a major plank in the government's response to the Trojan Horse controversy in some Birmingham schools. Historians may have argued for decades about the true significance of the document, but today politicians are clear - this is now about "British Values" - what they are and the role they should play in education. The only trouble is you have to define them first. And David Cameron wouldn't be the first politician to come unstuck there. Writing about it this week he started one paragraph with "freedom", followed quickly by "tolerance" and only 37 words later had resorted to "fish and chips". So how do we define these values? Perhaps they're being the kind of socially responsible parent who wants to instil their values in to their children and who's willing to dedicate a considerable amount of their spare time to become a school governor to help their local community? What if those parents happen to be Muslims who want their schools to have more of an "Islamic" ethos in an attempt to insulate their children against the "corrupting" effects of British society? What should you do when the values of a community clash with wider social norms? How tolerant should we be? Is it the role of the state to define and dictate what values should be taught in schools, or should that be the job of parents? Can you even teach values or are they something that we absorb gradually? Is this really about what is, or isn't being taught in a small group of schools in Birmingham, or is it more a crisis of confidence in our society about what we should and shouldn't value? Moral Maze - Presented by Michael Buerk.
Witnesses are Ted Cantle, Myriam Francois-Cerrah, Sunder Katwala and Alasdair Palmer.
Produced by Phil Pegum.