The former head of the Army has warned that the Government’s controversial out-of-schools settings plans could affect cadet training courses.
Lord Dannatt told The Sun newspaper: “I am all for a strong campaign to prevent radicalisation but common sense has to be applied.”
His comments came as five Christian charities urged opposition to the proposals, which would see schools’ regulator Ofsted carry out ‘British values’ inspections of church youth work.
Lord Dannatt joins a variety of critics of the Government’s out-of-school settings plans, including MPs and senior church figures.
A recent poll found that a majority of MPs believe the Government should scale back or drop the proposals.
Two-thirds of MPs agreed that “while the need to tackle extremism is clear, the proposal defines too widely the activities which would be covered by it”.
The Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres, has also raised concerns over the attempt to “enlist schools in the communication of ‘British values’ as a way of combatting ‘extremism'”.
He suggested that the State should support religious freedom, but that it should not pry into everyday affairs.
“The business of the State is to ensure that the living traditions in our pluralist society have space to flourish without the State itself being drawn into the role of an ideologically driven Big Brother, profligate with ever more detailed regulation”, he said.
Earlier today, five Christian charities urged opposition to the out-of-school settings plans in a joint statement.
The Christian Institute along with CARE, Christian Concern, Evangelical Alliance and Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship expressed concerns that the plans will limit gospel freedom.
Director of The Christian Institute, Colin Hart, said: “The freedom to proclaim the Gospel, and indeed our wider civil liberties, must be protected, not undermined in the name of ‘counter-extremism’.”
The Government wants to inspect any out-of-school setting in England which provides instruction to children for more than 6 to 8 hours in any week.
This would capture church youth work and one-off events such as holiday Bible clubs. The Welsh Government has also consulted on a similar scheme for Wales.