New rules intended to encourage “British Values” are being used to threaten a Christian school with closure because they have not invited an Imam to address the school assembly, reports a charity helping to defend them from the Department for Education.
The unnamed school, which is a small independent school in the home counties, has been warned that its rating under the Independent Schools Standards framework would be changed from “Good”, to merely “Adequate” because of its failure to meet the new requirements.
The rules, which were introduced after the Islamist ‘Trojan Horse’ scandal to prevent radicalisation of children in Britain’s schools appears to have suffered from the law of unintended consequences as they are now being used to interfere with traditional British schools instead.
The Department for Education (DfE) says promoting “acceptance and engagement” and “tolerance and respect of all faiths and cultures” in schools that teach the state religion now means going a lot further than school trips to Mosques and Temples, which has been the case in the past. The new rules mean the state is forcing faith schools, such as Anglican, Roman Catholic and Jewish schools to invite faith leaders such as Muslim Imams alien to their own traditions to lead lessons.
The Christian Institute has written a letter to the Education Secretary on behalf of one of the schools affected. The Daily Telegraph reports the comments of deputy director Simon Calvert: “Worryingly, evidence is already emerging of how the new regulations are requiring Ofsted inspection teams to behave in ways which do not respect the religious ethos of faith schools… the new requirements are infringing the rights of children, parents, teachers and schools to hold and practise their religious beliefs.
“The Christian Institute is currently working with an independent Christian School which has been marked down by Ofsted for not promoting other faiths. Astonishingly it was told it should invite representatives of other faith groups to lead assemblies and lessons, such as an Imam”.
A spokesperson for school inspectors Ofsted said the change in rules was essential to ensure Britain’s youth left school “well prepared” for “life in modern Britain”.
Amid these crackdowns on good Christian schools, concerns remain among the apparently radicalised Islamic schools which the rules were originally intended to combat. It was reported over the weekend that another six schools had been targeted in London in snap inspections, following “specific concerns” about the standards of education.
The schools, which included two run by the East London Mosque Trust were in Tower Hamlets, a borough run by directly elected mayor Lutfur Rahman, an area which has “categorically” denied having any such ‘Trojan-horse’ style plots to subvert education.