Churches will not be inspected as part of Government attempts to counter extremism, the Department for Education has confirmed.
Under the approach first mooted by David Cameron, any setting which provided instruction to children for more than six hours a week could have been inspected by Ofsted.
But amid strong concerns from groups including The Christian Institute, and critical consultation responses, the Government confirmed it has dropped the plans.
Some 18,000 people responded to the call for evidence in total, expressing doubts about Ofsted’s ability to inspect settings such as churches and questioning the vague ‘British values’ definition.
According to the official consultation report, 75 per cent of those who responded using the Government’s questionnaire said Ofsted should not be able to investigate out-of-school settings.
“Respondents who disagreed with this question expressed concerns about Ofsted’s capacity, expertise and neutrality in dealing with such settings”, the document said.
Many of those who responded also warned that the “proposed policy would result in the state becoming a regulator of religious teaching”.
And respondents said “existing laws are already in place to tackle issues raised in the call for evidence and therefore additional powers are not needed”.
The Government decided “not to pursue the model proposed in our call for evidence”, but instead to “develop further the evidence base for a national approach”.
It said: “We believe it is equally important that we ensure any future system carefully takes into account the differences within such a diverse sector”.
In 2016, The Christian Institute, CARE, Christian Concern, Evangelical Alliance and Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship called for the Government to scrap its controversial out-of-school settings proposals.
Colin Hart, Director of The Christian Institute, said at the time: “Christians are justifiably alarmed at the prospect of Ofsted conducting ‘British values’ inspections of church youth work.
“The freedom to proclaim the Gospel, and indeed our wider civil liberties, must be protected, not undermined in the name of ‘counter-extremism’.”