The Education Select Committee has called for careful handling of the Department for Education’s controversial ‘British values’ regulations.
The reliability of judgements made by the schools’ regulator Ofsted was called into question by the committee, in a report centring on the Trojan Horse scandal.
This follows a flat denial of any wrongdoing by Ofsted from its Chief Inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, last month.
The committee argued that confidence in Ofsted has been undermined.
Their report said that questions have been raised about the “reliability and robustness of Ofsted’s judgements”.
The report went on to examine Ofsted’s implementation of the ‘British values’ regulations, which have faced widespread criticism in recent months.
It reads: “There have been a number of reports of Ofsted inspectors coming into conflict with faith schools over inspections as a result of the changes to the inspection regime.”
The report cited the examples of three Orthodox Jewish schools and a Roman Catholic School in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, which was accused of failing to safeguard pupils against extremism.
Ofsted had told St Benedict’s School that it was failing to “prepare students for life in modern Britain”.
Ofsted backtracked and there was no mention of the issue in a revised version of their report on the school.
The committee went on to warn that monitoring how ‘British values’ are promoted in individual schools “must be done with common sense and sensitivity”.
A spokesman for Ofsted responded to the report saying the regulator will “consider its recommendations carefully”.
Speaking to the Education Select Committee last month Michael Wilshaw dismissed accusations of intrusive questioning by his inspectors, saying the claims had been “thoroughly investigated”.
And writing in The Independent, Sir Michael rejected the repeated and widespread criticism of the schools’ regulator as “a smokescreen” for Ofsted’s poor rating of the schools concerned.