The Government now wants nurseries to actively promote “fundamental British values”, in a further reaction to the Trojan Horse scandal.
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has announced plans for early years education providers to have finances withdrawn if they do not support the aim of preparing “young people for life in modern Britain”.
This comes as The Christian Institute has threatened legal action against the Department for Education over its plans to implement a similar regime in independent schools, free schools and academies.
Under proposed new standards, schools would be compelled to actively promote “fundamental British values”, including rights based on the Equality Act.
The Institute says the plans for schools are a rushed reaction to the Trojan Horse scandal in Birmingham, where certain state schools were taken over by governors seeking to impose harsh Islamic practices.
Speaking about the new proposals for early years education, Nicky Morgan said: “There can be no place for extremist views anywhere in the education system.
“The changes we are making today will ensure all early years providers and schools are aligned with the need to protect children from views that are considered extreme.”
A Government source told The Telegraph: “After Birmingham, we feel it is important to be proactive”.
The Department for Education has launched a consultation on the nursery changes, which are expected to be introduced next year.
Ofsted will be required to inspect early years providers against the new criteria.
All three and four year olds, and some two year olds, can receive free part-time early education in England, which is mainly delivered by school-based nurseries or those run by private and voluntary sector organisations.
But according to the consultation document, a nursery would be excluded from local authority funding if did not “actively promote fundamental British values; or promotes, as evidence-based, views and theories which are contrary to established scientific or historical evidence and explanations”.
A Government source told the Telegraph that they are “absolutely not saying, ‘You can’t teach Bible stories'”.
A statement from the Department for Education said that early years education providers “will be expected to teach children about fundamental British values in an age-appropriate way”.
“For children in the early years this will be about learning right from wrong, learning to take turns and share, and challenging negative attitudes and stereotypes.”
Beatrice Merrick, chief executive of the British Association for Early Childhood Education, said that as far as she is aware there is no evidence of extremist values being promoted in nurseries.