A broadcaster and journalist has changed his mind about Ofsted after reports that the schools’ regulator is using its remit to inappropriately question children.
Dennis Sewell, a contributing editor of The Spectator, said he was wrong to state that there is “nothing to fear from the Government’s policy of promoting ‘British values’ in schools”.
Writing in the Catholic Herald, Sewell discussed the “appalling” treatment of Grindon Hall Christian School in Sunderland and The Durham Free School.
He drew attention to the “utterly unsuitable” questions put to children as young as eleven, including “Do you know what lesbians do?” and “Have you ever felt you were trapped in the wrong body?”
He also referred to inspectors who demanded to know whether pupils at a Christian school celebrated the Muslim festival of Eid.
Speaking to the Education Select Committee last week the head of Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw, denied that inspectors had acted inappropriately at either school.
However, Sewell pointed to a political agenda on the part of Ofsted: “The honest answers to the inspectors’ inquisitions turned out to be the wrong answers.”
He said: “It is no longer enough for the government and Ofsted to prescribe what must be taught; now schools are to be held accountable for the personal views of their pupils.”
The Department for Education has consistently come under fire for its so-called ‘British values’ regulations for schools, introduced in September.
These regulations require schools to actively promote the protected characteristics of the Equality Act 2010, including homosexual and transsexual rights.
Sewell points to a paragraph included in an Ofsted draft report on Grindon Hall school which said: “The Christian ethos of the school permeates much of the school’s provision.
“This has restricted the development of a broad and balanced approach to the curriculum.”
He adds: “If our school inspectorate’s default position is that Christian or Catholic equals homophobic and Islamophobic” then “we really do have a problem with the perverse and insufficiently nuanced interpretation of British values that officialdom has seemingly chosen to adopt”.
Earlier this week the Daily Mail exposed the guidance behind Ofsted’s ‘inappropriate’ questioning of ten-year-olds.
The newspaper reported that inspectors are briefed to ask pupils as young as four about homosexuality and transsexualism.
Inspectors are also instructed to ask pupils about different types of families including having “two mums or two dads”, but there is no reference to families with both a mum and a dad.