Conservative MP Sir Edward Leigh, a Christian and veteran parliamentarian, will tonight call on the government to re-examine its relationship with the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted), the taxpayer-funded ‘quango’ that is tasked with assessing schools.
In a speech seen by Breitbart London, he will accuse the government of using Ofsted as an excuse to not take responsibility for standards in schools, remarking that all criticism of government policy is now rebutted by claiming questions raised are “a matter for Ofsted”. Sir Edward’s particular ire has been raised by the recent persecution of Christian faith schools by Ofsted, which it has been claimed is using so-called ‘British Values Tests’ designed to combat Islamic extremism on easier targets.
A number of previously highly regarded Christian schools have been re-tested under the new rules and found to be wanting, as they did not not sufficiently prepare the children in their care for “life in modern Britain”. Christian schools have been marked down by Ofsted and even threatened with closure for not inviting Muslim imams into lessons, or encouraging students to celebrate holidays from other faiths.
The move is part of a tick box culture at the schools inspector, which has also seen highly respected schools criticised because they do not conform with Ofsted’s idea of quality. One such school, Hill House Independent Junior School, chosen by the Royal Family in 1956 for the education of Prince Charles, and which boasts an ‘annex’ in Switzerland and “happy”, “polite”, and “excellent mannered” students was reported yesterday to have been failed by Ofsted. The Daily Mail reported that despite the success of its alumni in gaining scholarships to the best schools and popularity with parents, it now faces closure because pupil progress was not measured in a way that Ofsted could comprehend.
Alluding to this theme, Sir Edward will say: “They appear to be guilty of trying to enforce a kind of state-imposed orthodoxy on certain moral and religious questions.
“You have to wonder how far Christian schools have to go to satisfy the new standards. In September Bolton Parish Church C of E Primary School was told that, although “events such as Eid and Diwali are celebrated” “pupils’ understanding of life in modern Britain is underdeveloped”.
“How many non-Christian festivals does a Christian school have to celebrate before Ofsted will be happy?”
Addressing the minister for education, Sir Edward will express concern over points raised after a recent Ofsted inspection of a Catholic school, which “was subject to a no notice inspection in September 2014. The draft report said: “the younger students show less awareness of the dangers of extremism and radicalisation”.
“The idea that Catholics are being radicalised in state schools is as ridiculous as it is offensive”
“The Minister must tell us that new guidance will be issued to Ofsted on what constitutes age-appropriate questioning on sex and sexuality.
“He must make clear to Ofsted that having a religious ethos is not a negative thing. There are no Anglican or Catholic jihadists. Christian assemblies do not encourage extremism.
“He should remind Ofsted that the law prioritises the teaching of the Christian faith in RE and school assemblies because we are a Christian nation with a Christian heritage”.
“So-called “British values” is a classic bureaucratic response to a problem and it is damaging Christian schools.
“The truth is that real British values are Christian values. It is the influence of Christianity that made us one of the most tolerant and successful nations on earth. Not this artificial nonsense dreamed up by officials”.