Government efforts to promote ‘British values’ in schools could play a part in turning the State into an “ideologically driven Big Brother”, the Bishop of London has warned.
Speaking on Thursday, the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres, raised concerns over the attempt to “enlist schools in the communication of ‘British values’ as a way of combatting ‘extremism’”.
He suggested that the State should support religious freedom, but that it should not pry into everyday affairs.
“The business of the State is to ensure that the living traditions in our pluralist society have space to flourish without the State itself being drawn into the role of an ideologically driven Big Brother, profligate with ever more detailed regulation”, he said.
In a message delivered at St Paul’s Cathedral, the Bishop touched on the issue of human rights and said that while an “insistence” on individual rights had been valuable, that now needed to be reassessed.
Schools in England have been required to “actively promote” British values since 2014.
Pressure from The Christian Institute, MPs and others forced the Government to issue new guidance to all schools setting out that it is respect for people – rather than their beliefs – that schools need to promote.
However, in its inspections Ofsted have subjected some children in faith schools to intrusive questions.
Now the Government is considering giving Ofsted the power to investigate non-school settings such as church youth work under the Conservatives’ British values drive.