Lawrence campaign backed

25th October 1996 at 01:00
The Government will take up Frances Lawrence's campaign for renewed social and moral standards with the launch next week of nationwide consultation about the values that schools should promote.

Pupils will be asked to strive for knowledge and wisdom, to obey the law and to seek truth and dignity in public life in a document from the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority.

SCAA insists that shared values are essential if society is to stay healthy. It is seeking agreement on principles relating to society, the conduct of relationships, the self, and the environment.

Its advisers have privately welcomed Frances Lawrence's appeal, believing it to support their own campaign, launched last January by the SCAA chief executive, Dr Nicholas Tate.

This week Mrs Lawrence issued a Manifesto for The Nation in The Times which seeks to resist violence and promote citizenship, family values and authority.

She called for emphasis on "effort, earnestness, excellence" and for higher status for teachers and the police. Her appeal followed the conviction of 16-year-old Learco Chindamo for the murder of her husband Philip Lawrence, who was stabbed to death outside his West London school late last year.

The manifesto was immediately praised by the three main political parties and Education Secretary Gillian Shephard called for the introduction of lessons in citizenship.

The SCAA's approach is cross-curricular, but the authority has already targeted personal and social education lessons for improvement - part of a planned two-year pilot of new guidance materials. It will also recommend tightening up the criteria for judging schools on their spiritual and moral contribution.

The consultation will give schools a chance to say how society can support them. SCAA has been very critical of the way that schools' good work is undermined by examples of greed and self-interest in the wider world. SCAA wants agreement on statements such as "we value each person as a unique being of instrinsic worth, with potential for spiritual, moral and physical development".

On the basis of this pupils should be encouraged to understand their character, discover meaning and purpose in life, strive for knowledge and wisdom, and live up to a shared moral code.

If the document is accepted by the Government, children will also be asked to preserve balance and diversity in nature, and repair habitats devastated by man. They should respect the dignity, beliefs and property of others, support families in raising children and make truth and integrity priorities in public life.

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