Ofsted maintains expectation that faith schools teach sex education and about LGBT relationships

October 20, 2020

Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman has said Ofsted does not have the discretion to enable Charedi schools to ignore sex education or teaching about LGBT people. The Chief Inspector made her comments in an interview, uploaded yesterday, with the Charedi school headteacher and educator, Eli Spitzer. In response the Accord Coalition has urged the Government to do more to defend schools and education authorities from attack for upholding their equality and other legal duties.

During the discussion Amanda Spielman acknowledged a desire for Charedi schools to have a “group opt out from the law” regarding teaching about Relationships and Sex Education as well as LGBT relationships, but noted “I absolutely do recognise the depths of discomfort around this, yet at the same time there is literally nothing more that I could do to be flexible.” She concluded “I do not have the discretion to instruct inspectors not to notice this or that, it’s simply not there.

Last month the Accord Coalition for Inclusive Education heavily criticised the news that Ofsted would no longer downgrade primary schools that edit out LGBT people. Despite compelling legal arguments for schools not to ignore LGBT people, Ofsted changed its position under pressure from Government supporters.

President of the Accord Coalition, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, said ‘The provision of high-quality Relationships and Sex Education is an important safeguarding measure, while schools promoting acceptance between people of different protected characteristics is vital for the cohesiveness of our diverse society. These legal requirements are important for the health and wellbeing of both individuals and society at large.’

‘It should not be up to individual schools or education authorities to defend themselves for merely upholding their own equality and other duties. The Government has allowed a leadership vacuum to be created and should urgently offer those in the school system with greater support for upholding these obligations.’

Last week Accord announced the winners of its 2020 Inclusive Schools Award, which included Anderton Park Primary School in Birmingham. In 2019 the school continued to promote acceptance towards LGBT people, despite being at the centre of a media storm and under intense pressure to cease this teaching. In response to Anderton’s lack of Government support, Accord repeatedly urged the Government to provide greater backing for LGBT inclusion in schools, including co-organising a public letter from 78 civic leaders on this topic.

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