The Chief Inspector of Schools has said that parents who choose for their children to be educated according to their own faith must ensure they are tolerant of other religions.
Sir Michael Wilshaw made the comments while being interviewed about three unregistered Muslim schools in Birmingham which were recently shut down by Ofsted.
According to the BBC, Ofsted would like all part-time schools to be shut down and ‘start from scratch’, with a register for new establishments.
Sir Michael told the BBC that parents have a responsibility to ensure their children are taught certain values.
“Of course they’ve got a right to bring up their child with a different view of the world but they also have to ensure that their child understands the importance of tolerance, they’ve got to make sure their child understands the importance of other faiths and be tolerant of those issues. That’s the important thing”, he said.
In December last year the Department for Education (DfE) accepted the argument put forward by The Christian Institute that schools should be required to promote respect for people rather than their beliefs.
Responding at the time, the Institute’s Deputy Director Simon Calvert described this as an “important distinction”.
Former newspaper editor Charles Moore warned that the Government should not use the issues in Birmingham as an excuse to clamp down on Christian schools.
The schools in Birmingham were found to have “unhygienic and filthy conditions”, blocked fire escapes and “misogynistic, homophobic and anti-Semitic material”.
Writing in The Daily Telegraph, he questioned the definition of ‘homophobic’ used by inspectors.
He said that if they found pupils being taught that “marriage can only, in the sight of God, be between a man and a woman, a school is doing no more than repeating the universal view of all mainstream religions in history. Is that forbidden?”
“These are the sort of deep waters in which bureaucracies can easily drown”, he commented.
Sir Michael also said that Ofsted’s work to ensure that ‘British values’ are being promoted in all maintained and independent schools is being “seriously undermined” by the growth of unregistered education settings.
Christian schools have already faced hostile Ofsted ‘British values’ inspections, with pupils being asked inappropriate questions about sexuality.
Under ‘British values’ regulations, schools must actively promote the protected characteristics of the Equality Act 2010, including homosexual and transsexual rights.
Using extra funding from the Government, Sir Michael has set up a specialist team to investigate all “illegal schools”, run by any religious group.
Currently, schools giving under 20 hours of instruction per week are allowed to operate without being registered.
But the Government has launched a consultation on proposals to introduce a nationwide registration scheme for any out-of-school setting providing instruction to under 19-year-olds for more than six hours in any week.
The Christian Institute has raised concerns about the Government’s plans, which could see church youth work and summer camps being monitored by Ofsted for their compatibility with British values.
The Institute’s Director Colin Hart told Mrs Morgan in a letter that the proposals represent an “unprecedented attack on religious freedom”.