Ofsted chief will ramp up ‘British values’ drive

The new head of schools’ regulator Ofsted has vowed to continue the Government’s controversial ‘British values’ drive.

Amanda Spielman, who took over as Ofsted chief in January, used the recent terror attacks as evidence that a greater crackdown on different forms of extremism is needed.

The Christian Institute has consistently raised concerns over the Government’s definitions of extremism and the vague and subjective nature of British values.

‘Extreme’

In her first official speech since the General Election, Spielman said she would continue the work of her predecessor Sir Michael Wilshaw.

She said the promotion of so-called ‘British values’ will be determined by individual inspectors, adding, “there isn’t a prescribed translation of it, so schools will have to work it out”.

The Christian Institute’s Education Officer John Denning said Spielman’s assertions would be “particularly concerning” for headteachers of faith schools.

He said: “The worry is that this will encourage Ofsted inspectors to put pressure on, or even fail schools, based on their own subjective opinions of what constitutes British values. This will continue to leave schools vulnerable to inspectors’ personal biases.”

Aggressive questioning

The requirement to “actively promote” British values in schools was first introduced by the Government in 2014.

Since then, Ofsted inspectors have caused widespread problems for religious liberty in England, with aggressive questioning of teachers and pupils over their beliefs on same-sex marriage and transsexualism.

In 2015, Durham Free School – which had a Christian ethos – was closed after it was deemed by Ofsted not to be meeting British values requirements.

Inspectors were criticised after it emerged they had asked students aged 11 – 14 inappropriate questions relating to sex education and if they knew anyone who had been “born in the wrong body”.

As part of its British values drive, the Government has proposed sending Ofsted inspectors into churches to inspect youth work.

To find out more, visit our Ofsted page.

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