The Head of Ofsted Sir Michael Wilshaw has admitted that under Government proposals, Ofsted Inspectors will be sent into some Sunday Schools if they become concerned at what is being taught there.
During an interview on LBC Radio yesterday morning, Sir Michael was challenged about the plans by caller Anthea from Waltham Abbey.
She asked him if he was “…ready and happy for Ofsted inspectors to be used as thought police shutting down community groups in this way?”
In reply, Sir Michael said: “Now, the Government is seriously concerned about that and wants Sunday schools and wants Madrassas and after school clubs to be registered. That won’t take a lot of time and we will not be inspecting every one of them but we will know that they exist. And if there are concerns, if whistle-blowers do tell us there’s an issue then we will go in and inspect. Our inspections will be proportionate.”
Sir Michael went on to admit: “All we’re saying is that if church groups or religious groups want to run out-of-school classes then they need to register so that the country and the Department of education know they exist and that they’re being run properly.”
His admittance that some Sunday schools could face inspection contradict remarks made by Lord Nash in the House of Lord’s yesterday.
Lord Stroud asked the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education (Lord Nash): “Can the Minister indicate how we should deal with Sunday schools and communion classes, which may fall into the category of unregistered provision?”
In reply, Lord Nash said: “We do not propose to regulate institutions such as Sunday schools and one-off residential settings which teach children for a short period every week. We are looking specifically at places where children receive intensive education, which we think will be defined as more than six to eight hours a week.”
CARE’s Chief Executive Nola Leach said: “Sunday Schools are places where children are being taught about the truths of the bible, they are not training grounds for extremists.
“Ofsted does not assess the religious teaching of faith schools, so how extraordinary that it should consider assessing the religious teachings of churches in Sunday School.
“It is a waste of Ofsted’s resources and it is becoming clearer just how concerned many people are by these proposals and rightly so.
“The government’s problem is that they are trying to regulate and define non-violent extremism which is extraordinarily subjective and an impossible thing to do.”