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An umbrella and a strong support

Monica Taylor talks about the role of the Values Education Council. The recently-established Values Education Council, an umbrella organisation covering values education and values in education in the UK, has the purpose of promoting and developing values in the context of education as a lifelong process and to help individuals become responsible and caring persons, living as participating members of a pluralist society.

The VEC has been more than two years in formation. During this time more than a dozen key associations and groups with a direct interest in aspects of values education - covering citizenship, moral, religious, social and multicultural education - have been working towards establishing this wider supportive network.

As well as developing mutual awareness of the work of these organisations and a foundation for working together in the future, the group has been exploring what the VEC intends to do and producing a constitution to guide its activities.

Since the first steps were taken, more than 40 organisations have expressed interest and have been kept informed of progress. Several general meetings, some with guest speakers, have been held to debate the role of VEC and to consider values in education and current policy on aspects of values education.

The aims of the council are to:

* provide a network for facilitating the exchange of information and discussion between member organisations

* promote dialogue about, and awareness and understanding of, values and their application in education and society

* provide a framework within which member bodies can work together with those responsible for the development of public policy; and support those engaged in the values dimensions of education.

The VEC is seeking membership from a wide range of organisations and individuals, reflecting the diversity of values in this multicultural pluralist society. Applications for membership will be considered by the interim committee, which consists of 13 representatives of values organisations from across the UK, for ratification by the full council at its first AGM. There are two categories of membership. Full membership is open to organisations whose primary aims and purposes are consistent with those of the council. Associate membership, which does not bring voting rights, is open to other organisations and individuals.

Membership fees for October 1995 to September 1996 are: full membership organisations Pounds 50; associate membership organisations Pounds 30; individuals Pounds 10.

By respecting the specific interests of member organisations and also drawing collectively upon their strengths, the VEC hopes to have a greater influence on policy making and practice. It intends to offer an exchange of information among members, and to schools, possibly by setting up a database, and by offering consultancies.

Another objective is to raise awareness of values issues in education by acting as a forum for debate, through conferences and seminars, and by having a public profile.

Member organisations will be able to contribute research findings, evidence of effective curriculum practice and informed comment on inspection and evaluation. It is also hoped that collaborative research and development may be undertaken.

The VEC will be publicly launched at a conference in London on October 13 and 14 with a keynote speaker and workshops. The first AGM and elections for the officers and executive committee will also take place. To be effective the VEC requires the participation and involvement of a broad spectrum of organisations and those individuals who support its purpose, share its aim and wish to be actively committed to promoting its development.

For those who are interested, the council's constitution, a leaflet and application form, and further information about the forthcoming conference are available from the acting secretary of the Vales Education Council, David Rowse, Vales Education for Life, faculty of education, University of Central England, Westbourne Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 3TN, tel 0121-753 3715.

Monica Taylor is editor of the Journal of Moral Education and works at the National Foundation for Educational Research.

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