The Nolan Principles

The Seven Principles underpinning Public Life

 In 1994 John Major, the then Prime Minister, announced the establishment of a Committee on Standards in Public Life, under the Chairmanship of Lord Nolan. It is an independent public body which advises government on ethical standards across the whole of public life in the UK.

Lord Nolan began the First Report of his Committee, published in May 1995, by setting out what he called “The Seven Principles of Public Life”, often described as “the Nolan Principles”.

These principles apply to all aspects of public life. The Committee set them out for the benefit of all who serve the public in any way.

 The Independent Schools Inspectorate is not a public body but in recognition of the important role the inspectorate plays in safeguarding the education and welfare of pupils who attend independent schools in membership of ISC associations, the ISI Board endorses and abides by the Nolan Principles. These are expressly incorporated into the Board’s Code of Conduct.

 The principles are:

1.       Selflessness

Holders of public office should take decisions solely in terms of the public interest.

2.       Integrity

Holders of public office must avoid placing themselves under any obligation to people or organisations that might try inappropriately to influence them in their work. They should not act or take decisions in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends. They must declare and resolve any interests and relationships.

3.       Objectivity

Holders of public office must act and take decisions impartially, fairly and on merit, using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias.

4.       Accountability

Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to the scrutiny necessary to ensure this.

5.       Openness

Holders of public office should act and take decisions in an open and transparent manner. Information should not be withheld from the public unless there are clear and lawful reasons for so doing.

6.       Honesty

Holders of public office should be truthful.

7.       Leadership

Holders of public office should exhibit these principles in their own behaviour. They should actively promote and robustly support the principles and be willing to challenge poor behaviour wherever it occurs.

For further information on the 7 principles and the work of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, visit the Committee’s website and blogsite.

For more about the Code of Conduct for the ISI Board see our safeguarding policy.