Ofsted inspections of churches
The Counter-Extremism Strategy says that out-of-school institutions teaching children would have to register so that they can be inspected.
David Cameron referred particularly to madrassas when he announced the new approach, but said it will apply to an institution “whatever its religion” and added “if you are teaching intolerance, we will shut you down”.
The Government consulted on giving Ofsted legal power to investigate any setting in England that provides instruction to children for more than 6 to 8 hours in any week. The consultation closed on Monday 11 January 2016.
‘Don’t close my Sunday School!’ – Poppy’s story
How will churches be affected?
Many churches will be caught because children can attend multiple events in one week. In addition to Sunday school, a particular child could also attend a baptism or confirmation class, choir practice and youth group. These will be added together (‘aggregated’) to give the total time a child spends under instruction by the church. One-off events such as holiday Bible clubs would also be counted.
A child may exceed 6 hours’ attendance every week, or just for some weeks of the year. Registration is triggered in both cases. This results in all activities, including the Sunday school, being subject to potential inspection.
The Welsh Government has also held a consultation on a similar scheme for Wales, which closed on 5 April 2016. Our Wales briefing (PDF) and a Wales Joint Statement (English PDF/Cymraeg PDF) provide more information.
By CARE, Christian Concern, Evangelical Alliance, Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship and The Christian Institute.