Threatened Christian school: ‘Change British values rules’
Sat, 25 Oct 2014
A school which was told by Ofsted that it could face closure for failing to uphold ‘British values’ has written to the Education Secretary urging her to review controversial new education standards.
Trinity Christian School, a small independent school in Reading, was rated “excellent” for its provision for pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development in November last year.
It was told that pupils were “well prepared for life in modern, multicultural, democratic British society through the teaching of the Christian principle to ‘love thy neighbour’”.
However, following an inspection this month it was deemed not to be meeting the revised Department for Education requirements introduced in late September.
This issue “dominated” the inspector’s questions, the school said, and “at no point were any questions asked about other aspects of the curriculum or the quality of teaching assessed through lesson observations”.
The school was told that representatives of other faiths should be invited to lead assemblies and lessons.
It was also told, that in order to comply with the new regulations, it should ‘actively promote’ other faiths, and the principles of the Equality Act 2010, and was warned against promoting a “particular lifestyle”.
The Christian Institute is supporting the school, after having previously raised concerns about the new education standards.
In the letter to Secretary of State Nicky Morgan, John Charles, the Chairman of Governors at the school, said: “From November 2013 to October 2014 the school has continued the same provision for pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development which Ofsted adjudged excellent in November 2013.
“Yet, immediately following the introduction of the revised school standards, the school is threatened with the prospect of closure.
“We cannot understand how such a change in thinking can take place within a year.
“It is an explicit aim of ours to encourage pupils to serve and respect other people, appreciate different cultures and ideas and equip them for life in society.
“But the comments made by Ofsted, as a result of the new regulations, undermine our aims and would prevent us from teaching in accordance with our Christian foundation.”
It concluded: “We would be very grateful if you would look into this matter for us and review your decision regarding the new regulations.”
The Christian Institute’s Deputy Director Simon Calvert said: “This is a small Christian school which has previously been rated ‘good’ overall and ‘excellent’ for its spiritual, moral, social and cultural provision.
“Christian schools like Trinity have a reputation for high standards and well-rounded pupils and they should have the freedom to continue doing what they’ve always done.
“Parents clearly want such schools to thrive, and the Department for Education should too.
“At the beginning of the summer we warned that if the Government brought in these regulations then they would be enforcing political correctness in schools. We also said there would be hostility to the religious, and ethical, viewpoints of religious schools.
“The DfE said it would never happen, but since then we’ve been finding case after case where that’s exactly what’s going on.”
“What we need, is to go back to the drawing board to actually talk to stakeholders, talk to faith schools, find out where they’re coming from and come up with a set of proposals which don’t require them to promote beliefs which profoundly go against their own.”