Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has refused to back down over her controversial drive to enforce ‘British values’ regulations, despite heavy criticism of schools’ regulator Ofsted by two Christian schools.
Grindon Hall Christian School in Sunderland and The Durham Free School have both complained of inappropriate questioning and undue criticism by Ofsted inspectors.
Although parents of children at both schools have voiced strong opposition to Ofsted’s findings, Mrs Morgan said she is “unapologetic”.
Last night Mrs Morgan said that she would “vigorously defend” British values regulations, introduced in September last year, because they help to “open young people’s minds”.
The Education Secretary said she is convinced it is right that “Ofsted are now taking steps to make sure” that British values are enforced in all schools.
However, Ofsted’s enforcement of ‘British values’ regulations has faced criticism from teachers and parents after children complained of inappropriate questioning by inspectors.
Children aged 6 to 18 at Grindon Hall Christian School in Sunderland faced questioning by Ofsted inspectors about transsexualism, homosexuality and religious festivals.
Principal of the school, Chris Gray, has written a formal complaint to Ofsted citing the “intrusive and deeply personal questioning” of children.
Mr Gray expressed concern that “the manner and content of questioning of pupils crossed the line into harassment”.
At The Durham Free School, inspectors were said to have adopted an “aggressive” questioning technique when talking to pupils.
Questions asked to 11 to 13-year-olds included: “Have you had ‘The Talk’?” and “How have you learned how to make a baby?”
Ofsted claimed that inspectors found evidence of homophobic behaviour in both schools.
However parents at Grindon Hall school and The Durham Free School reacted with outrage and disbelief, strongly denying Ofsted’s allegations.
Alison Pearson, a lesbian herself, was quick to defend the school after claims of homophobic bullying.
Alison said that her daughter Amy was victimised at a previous school because of her mother’s sexuality but not at The Durham Free School.
Speaking after a parents meeting, one mother described Grindon Hall as “an absolutely wonderful school” and described Ofsted’s claims of racism and homophobia as “just incredible”.
She spoke of a parent who stood up at the meeting and described how their child had been bullied in five different schools because they were thought to be gay.
She added: “They’ve come to our school and it’s the only school they’ve never been bullied at for being gay.”
The Durham Free School is in the process of taking legal advice after Nicky Morgan pledged to take away its funding.