Ofsted under attack for not being overly deferential towards faith school practices

February 6, 2019

The Accord Coalition for Inclusive Education has urged political leaders to support Ofsted in requiring different kinds of school uphold the law. Accord has offered its call in response to pressure yesterday by two members of the House of Commons Education Select Committee who urged, during a questions session with Ofsted’s Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman, that Ofsted should soften its inspection of faith schools.

During the session Committee Chair Robert Halfon MP revealed he had received representations from faith school providers unhappy about the scrutiny their schools were receiving and urged Ofsted’s Chief Inspector to ‘try and assuage these concerns’. Committee member Ian Mearns MP meanwhile placed an onus on Ofsted to allay the concern of some faith schools, including within the Charedi Jewish school sector, that objected to having to cover LGBT content. He told the Chief Inspector that Ofsted still had ‘some way to go’ in convincing these schools that the inspectorate was treating them fairly.

In recent years Ofsted has started to take much more seriously the scandal of illegally unregistered schools. Some public authorities have turned a blind eye to the schools, many of which are faith based and found to provide a substandard curriculum and flout health and safety regulations. Ofsted has also taken a more consistent approach to equality, such as no longer supporting habitual gender segregation within schools, and more readily criticising schools, including faith schools, for providing a narrow curriculum.

Chair of the Accord Coalition, the Revd Stephen Terry, said ‘Whatever Ofsted’s role in the school system, it should not be a lightning rod for issues that other public officials are too timid to address. Political leaders should support inspectors in treating schools consistently and in seeking to ensure schools adhere to the law and best serve their pupils. It is shocking and irresponsible that some should instead be special pleading so that Ofsted goes back to being soft on faith schools and effectively implements double standards.’

‘Special interest groups, including faith schools, should understand their duties under the law to provide a balanced and inclusive education. They can do this while putting forward their particular ethical, social and moral view of the World. If this is not achieved then it will be much harder for all young people to play their part in building the tolerant society which Britain desperately needs to maintain and develop.’


The Education Select Committee’s questions regarding faith schools can be viewed from 11:21:44 until 11:30:12 at https://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/f3289bae-c679-4b7b-aeb5-420428b9f7e6.

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