Govt may retain schools’ freedom to disagree with same-sex marriage

Draft guidance which restricts the ability of church schools to teach about same-sex marriage is being amended, according to The Sunday Times.

The guidance proposed earlier this year says a school would fail to meet its obligations under Independent School Standards if the curriculum “suggests that same-sex marriages or civil partnerships should not be recognised as being lawful unions under civil law”.

The Sunday Times has reported that the Government is re-writing the guidelines.

‘Prohibtion’

Education Secretary Damian Hinds put the guidance out to consultation in March.

In response, The Christian Institute commissioned a legal opinion which warned that the guidelines are “legally flawed”.

Professor McCrudden, a barrister at Blackstone Chambers, argued that the wording amounts to an “effective prohibition” on teaching that suggests same-sex marriage or civil partnerships should not be lawful.

State schools

According to the newspaper, “civil servants are understood to have made it clear that independent primary schools will no longer be failed by inspectors” over the issue.

This was described as a “U-turn” by Alan Smithers, the Director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University.

He said if it was confirmed, then pressure would increase for the freedom to be extended to primary schools in the state sector.

Traditional

Responding to the report, Ofsted said it believed the guidelines were “appropriate for all schools”.

The Department for Education said it had not yet published the new guidance.

Commenting on the legal opinion in July, John Denning, Education Officer at The Christian Institute, said: “These proposals seem to be a deliberate attempt to police the views of Christians, Muslims, Jews and others who hold the traditional view that marriage is the lifelong union of a man and a woman.”

Anti-democratic

He added that it went against repeated promises made during the passage of the law which redefined marriage.

“Preventing debate about our laws in schools is anti-democratic and banning the consideration of religious perspectives on the law amounts to a significant limitation on the ability to manifest religious belief and will be challenged vigorously”.

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