In this section you will be able to find out more about the ethical process taken in this research. This project will constantly assess the ethics through out the entire research process. This project has been approved for ethical clearance by the University of Exeter’s ethical committee (certificate number D1819-023).

All ethical considerations within this ethics form has followed guidance from British Educational Research Associations (BERA) ‘Ethical Guidelines for Educational Research’  (2018)

With support from the:
• University of Exeter’s ‘SSIS Ethics Guidance;
• Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) ‘Research Ethics’ information;
• UniversitiesUK ‘The concordat to support research integrity

Research Methods

This research will consist of:

  1. Semi-structured interviews (face-to-face interviews) with serving teachers or support staff who will be recognised as a key informant;
  2. Documentary Analysis (a focus on school policies, websites, schemes of work and training the school undertakes.);

Note: There may be other data collection methods that will be used but as this research takes an emergent approach another ethics form will be submitted or this one updated if any other methods are used.

In order to support exploration of schools approaches to ‘fundamental British values’, around 12 different schools will be selected based on purposive maximum variation. Each school approached to participate in this research will select someone in the school who has responsibility for the implementation of ‘fundamental British values’ in that school. This person will here forth be known as the ‘key informant’.

The key informant will be interviewed at least once and asked their perceptions based on Goodlad’s curriculum framework pertaining to the ideology around the introduction behind ‘fundamental British values’, the formal approach the school takes/has taken in the implementation of ‘fundamental British values’ and the key informant’s own perceptions in their role as a teacher in the requirement to actively promote ‘fundamental British values’. Each interview will last for around 1 – 1.5 hours, held at a mutually convenient time at either St Luke’s campus at the University of Exeter or at their school.

The semi-structured interview process will form the main part of the data collection process and will consist of face to face interviews using a semi-structured framework with questions and prompts. Visual stimuli will be used to spark conversation which will consist of the ‘Promoting fundamental British values as part of SMSC in schools’ DfE guidance and word prompts on cards. Each interview will be recorded and transcribed. Each participant will be informed of their rights to withdraw at any time or not answer any questions they feel uncomfortable answering.

The key informant will represent the school. The key informant will ideally have the following characteristics:

  1. They must have been teaching prior to 2014 which was a year before the ‘fundamental British values’ regime was introduced. This will allow me to investigate the process of introducing FBV within the school.
  2. They must have a responsibility for overseeing or implementing FBV within the school. This may include a safeguarding officer and curriculum leader etc.

Prior to the interview taking place I will pilot the interview schedule with one teacher and use the results from this interview to refine and adapt the interview framework, information sheet and participant handbook.

Documentary analysis will focus on school policies which are generally made public via their respective websites which also makes my presence as the researcher less intrusive. Additionally, schemes of work and website content will be looked at. The documentary analysis focuses on the formal approach the school has taken based upon the DfE’s ideology surrounding the implementation of FBV.

For further information on recruitment, please see the section on voluntary nature of participation below.

Expected outputs
Some of the initial outputs of this research may include:

  • Thesis
  • Conference presentations
  • Academic Journals
  • Practitioner Journals
  • Presentations to professionals (academics, students, schools and other educational organisations).

Discussion of sensitive topics
For some, this research may be a sensitive topic, especially when talking about the controversial nature of FBV, Prevent, othering of certain groups and terrorism. Please see the section on possible harm for a discussion of how I intend to minimise harm to participants.


Participants will be state-funded secondary teachers who have been teaching since the introduction of requirement to promote FBV in November 2014 who also have responsibility and/or oversight of the implementation of FBV. The key informant could be any member of school staff, in any position, with any subject specialism. Key informants will be interviewed face-to-face from a variety of schools around England.

Each school will be selected based upon maximum variations of their characteristics using information held on the EduBase database (DfE, 2017), Ofsted statistics database and the most recent Census. Each school will be asked to nominate a ‘key informant’ who has a form of responsibility of overseeing the installation of FBV in the school. Additionally, this sampling method also allows for the widest variety of schools to be represented and given a voice, whilst maintaining equality, capturing as much deviation in the schools as possible. The specific schools will be selected based upon their school type, religious and non-religious affiliation, region and previous and current Oftsed ratings. This is not to claim that the participants and schools selected will be representative of the whole population, but to gain a range of different perspectives.

It is anticipated that around 6 – 10 participants well be recruited however the number will be dependent on a balance of sufficient depth of interviews, time, school locations and school type.

There is no cash or gift incentive, however, it’s hoped that due to the controversial nature of the active promotion of FBV this process will serve as an opportunity for participants to discuss and share their thoughts feelings and their best practice with me which in turn will contribute to the wider discourse surrounding this study. Additionally, having considered meaningful incentives for the school and participants and I intend to offer to participate as a guest speaker around values education or anything that surrounds my research interests. I will also extend my services to the students by listening to student presentations as a guest etc. Any form of practical incentive will take place around 3 months after the data collection has finished in order not to influence or impact the data collection process in anyway. A summary of key findings will be made available along with a copy of the thesis.
Also, the active participation of schools and ‘key informants’ may in some essence contribute towards the wider professional development surrounding FBV and the requirement by law to promote these values.

The Voluntary Nature of Participation

I am likely to have to use a range of methods to recruit schools and ‘key informants’ with the appropriate characteristic indicated above. I anticipate these may include:

  • Through my collaborator, the National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Woman Teachers.
  • The University of Exeter Graduate School of Education partnership office with which I have a named contact to help with this research.
  • Online adverts via a dedicated Twitter and Facebook accounts.
  • Leaflets via the NASUWT schools we work with who are using the NASUWT for support in their requirement to comply with PREVENT and FBV.
  • Approaching schools via information sources such as internet searches, Ofsted reports, recent high profile schools. Etc.

If emailing, I will use my university email address, to preserve confidentiality and to distinguish my professional and academic roles (see further below).

I will seek written consent from participants and sample information and consent forms and a participant handbook have been attached.

The interviews will be anonymised and confidentiality will be preserved. Participation will also be voluntary.
At the start of interviews, I will ask participants whether they agree to me recording the session and explain to them that they can stop the recording at any point during the session. The interviews will be anonymised and confidential and school name and pseudonyms used.

Participants will be able to withdraw from the research at any time. The participant handbook and consent forms emphasise that all participation is voluntary and consent can be withdrawn at any time.

Special Arrangements

In order to make this research accessible to all participants, consent forms and participant handbooks can be provided in larger font and coloured paper if required. Interviews can be held in accessible locations if requested. All requests from schools and ‘key informants’ will be considered in line with GDPR requirements, Equality Act 2010 and University of Exeter ethical guidelines.

The Informed Nature of Participation

The sample consent forms and participant information sheet attached include information about the nature of the project, what the project is about, what is involved and data protection. Sample consent forms and participant handbook will be provided before participant consent.

I will summarise at the beginning of the interview the participants’ right to withdrawal at any time and that their confidentially of their personal details will remain only known to myself, my first supervisor Rob Freathy and my second supervisor Deborah Osberg and stored a password protected file. I will also inform the key informant that their personal details and school detais will remain anonymous and that pseudonyms will be used to protect any identifiable features.

I will then ask if they are ok for the interview to be voice recorded. If participants raise any questions (whether before, after or during the interview) then I will answer them.

Assessment of Possible Harm

Interview in this research involves reflection where there is the possibility that participants may remember difficult or sensitive events surrounding the ‘fundamental British values’ agenda, and it will be important to approach interviewing with sensitivity. I formerly worked as a teacher and as a union caseworker, and still undertake occasional work on a casual basis, so I am used to dealing with members who are emotional, distressed or angry. I have found in practice that when members become upset it can be useful to move on to another topic or offer to pause or stop the interview. I will draw on this experience when interviewing teachers. I will also make sure that interviewees know they do not have to answer any question they do not want to and that they can adjourn or withdraw from the interview at any time, if it was evident that a participant was becoming distressed and provide them with a debrief opportunity.

All interviewees will be confidential and anonymous as described in the ‘Informed nature of participation’ section. Their (school and ‘key informant’) identities will be anonymised and pseudonyms assigned prior to transcription. Identities and any distinguishing characteristics indicated in the interview will be omitted from the interview transcript to ensure that participants cannot be identified from the text.

Interviews will take usually place within the school, however, if participants would prefer to be interviewed at an alternative location they will be given the option of meeting at the St Luke’s campus, Exeter or somewhere public, i.e. a library with a private meeting room to maintain privacy of interview conversations.

If the key participant wishes to be interviewed at St Luke’s campus, then I will book a meeting room and arrange to meet them at the St Luke’s campus Student Information Desk (SID). It is anticipated that both the School and the University of Exeter are spaces where there will not be any risk of harm.

If the key informant wishes to choose the option to be interviewed outside of school for any reason then the following will apply as a lone researcher.

The risk of being a lone researcher

It is likely that I will be interviewing participants within their natural school setting. However, it shouldn’t be presumed this will be the case and such it would left up to the participant which may involve interviewing in another environment away from the school which will make me a lone researcher and as such the following will apply:

  1. Ensuring that my supervisor knows the name and address of the person I am going to interview and that a family member knows the approximate location and that my supervisor will have the full details (this will balance the need to keep the participants’ identity confidential and my own safety).
  2. Emailing my supervisor and contacting a friend or family member before I go into the interview and when I leave.
  3. Ensuring that either a friend, family member or my supervisor (I will agree with one of these people in advance depending on who is available):

– Receives a call from me after the interview has finished and if they haven’t heard from me they call me on my mobile if they have not heard from me after 2.5 hours from my initial call.If I do not answer that call, calls me again 30 minutes later and;

– If I do not answer that second call, calls the police.

Data Protection and Storage

Data protection, processing and storage will be in accordance with GDPR (2016) requirements and in line with the University of Exeter ethical guidelines and the overarching principles of informed consent, advising participants how their data will be used and stored, and using data only for research purposes.

I will only capture confidential information about participants on their consent forms and will not record any personal information about participants on audio recordings at the start of the interview.

Following the interview, I will assign the participants pseudonyms. I will record pseudonyms and actual names on a password protected spreadsheet that will be uploaded onto u drive. I will only store this document on u drive and not on my home computer or any portable devices.

My consent form explains how data will be stored and contains written privacy notice:

  • Consent forms will be scanned and uploaded into a separate file on u drive from the password protected spreadsheet and the original forms will be confidentially shredded.
  • Digital recordings will be deleted as soon as I have an authoritative transcript of the interview or focus group.
  • I will ensure that any analysis of the data which is not stored on u drive only uses the aliases.
  • Data that includes confidential details (including contact details) may be kept for up to 5 years so that, if necessary, I can contact participants during my PhD. It will be destroyed as soon as my PhD is awarded.
  • Anonymised data may be stored indefinitely.
  • Anonymised data may be uploaded to the UK Data Service in accordance with ESRC requirements.

Data will be kept confidential unless for some reason I am required to produce it by law or something in the interview causes me concern about potential harm to participants. In the case of the latter, I will first discuss with my supervisor what, if any, further action to take.

If I am able to secure funding to have interviews transcribed then I will brief the transcriber on the need to remove any identifying details and will explain to the transcriber what I mean by this (for example, names of participants).

Declaration of Interests

My PhD is funded by the ESRC. This is explained on my information sheet and participant handbook. During my professional career I have held a number of professional roles and may well have met teachers through these roles as a teacher or as a Caseworker and Equality Officer for the NASUWT teaching union. The participant handbook and information sheet/consent form will explain that these roles are separate from my research role and that I will not use participant details given as part of this research project for any reason.

User Engagement and Feedback

The emergent methodology will involve collating data via interviews in the first instance. The interviews will capture what the key informant says around their perceptions of ‘fundamental British values’. The interviews will be transcribed by me and given back to the participant to make notes and amend if needed.

Key informants and schools will be provided a summary key findings from the research or any subsequent paper that arise from this research and the use of their collected data. This will be given to them once the thesis has been completed, which is approximately one year after the interviews have taken place.