Accord Coalition urges Government to heed Ofsted speech

February 1, 2018

The Accord Coalition for Inclusive Education has welcomed comments by Ofsted Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman, which warn of education institutions that wish to narrow young people’s horizons and segregate. Speaking at a Church of England education conference this morning Amanda Spielman said:

‘Ofsted inspectors are increasingly brought into contact with those who want to actively pervert the purpose of education. Under the pretext of religious belief, they use education institutions, legal and illegal, to narrow young people’s horizons, to isolate and segregate, and in the worst cases to indoctrinate impressionable minds with extremist ideology. Freedom of belief in the private sphere is paramount, but in our schools it is our responsibility to tackle those who actively undermine fundamental British values or equalities law.’

She later observed:

… one of our greatest areas of concern is what is happening under the radar in so-called out-of-school provision … some other out-of-school settings operate less benignly. These institutions, some of which operate as illegal schools, use the opportunity to – in the words of the former Prime Minister – put “poison in the minds, hatred in hearts” of young people. They need to be tackled … it is a matter of regret that the Church [of England] has resisted changes in the law to allow Ofsted to inspect these settings. This is not about infringing religious freedom: no one is proposing a troop of inspectors turning up at Sunday schools. Instead, it is about ensuring that the small minority of settings that promote extremism are not able to evade scrutiny.’

The Revd Stephen Terry, speaking on behalf of the Accord Coalition, said ‘The clear call from Amanda Spielman in support of those who seek to resist religious extremism in our schools is very welcome, and Accord strongly supports her comments.

‘Unfortunately such extreme views are not confined to one particular section of the faith community, and we urge Ofsted to be alert to any and all practices, from whatever religious grouping, which encourage discrimination and segregation in the education of our children and young people. We call upon the Department fro Education to ensure that Ofsted has the necessary legal powers to act robustly and effectively in these circumstances.’

Amanda Spielman comments follow Ofsted’s latest annual report, published in December 2017, which warned of a growing number of schools that ‘do not prepare pupils for life in Britain or, worse, actively undermine fundamental British values’. Many of the schools were illegally unregistered and were Christian, Jewish or Islamic. The inspectorate complained that ‘current legislation is inadequate to tackle unregistered schools’ because institutions were exploiting loopholes about definitions of schools and as there is no current requirement to register a home educated child.

report last month from Hackney Council – the local authority believed to have the largest number of children attending unregistered schools – has also urged public agencies to be given greater powers of regulation and inspection. The report complained that local unregistered schools had been operating in the Borough for many years with the knowledge of a range of government bodies. Many failed basic health and safety standards and provided a very limited curriculum. The Council found public agencies were having particular difficulty in taking action as the schools purported to be part-time schools or out of school settings that complemented the education of children who were being home educated.

One Response to Accord Coalition urges Government to heed Ofsted speech

  1. Bea on February 3, 2018 at 6:12 pm

    Good for her.
    There’s an example of conservative elements trying to use schools to advance their own narrow way of thinking here:

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