The Church of England (C of E) is the latest institution to brand new standards requiring schools to actively promote “British values” as dangerous and divisive.
Responding to a Government consultation the C of E raised fears about the sweeping new powers being assumed by the Department for Education.
This new warning comes after The Christian Institute attacked the proposals in August. Since then a number of faith schools have been targeted under the controversial new regulations.
The Department for Education has been accused of rushing through a consultation on the school standards, which was published in July. The standards came into force in late September.
The C of E’s submission to the consultation speaks of the “danger” of regulating under such loose terms, describing the standards as a “negative and divisive approach”.
Nigel Genders, Chief Education Officer for the C of E, cautioned that: “‘British values’ cannot be allowed to become a test or an assessment of whether somebody in a community is ‘safe’ or ‘loyal'”.
He argued that the new standards of equality are being upheld by “policing” through an “ever increasing inspection regime”.
The regulations state that academies, free schools and independent schools must ‘actively promote’ the rights defined in the Equality Act 2010, including sexual orientation and transsexual rights.
Genders went on to argue that “extremism thrives when religion is banished to dark corners”.
He added, “more importantly, if we reject all forms of religion from our schools, we are failing to prepare young people for the realities of life”.
Last month, the dangers of the new standards became real when a small Christian school and a number of Jewish schools fell foul of Ofsted inspectors.
Trinity Christian School was told it could face closure for failing to uphold “British values” after an inspection by the schools’ regulator.
The governors of Trinity Christian School have written to Education Secretary Nicky Morgan urging her to review the standards.
The Christian Institute is preparing a judicial review of the regulations, stating that they are “invasive and unjustified”.