The head of Ofsted should be sacked for saying live on air that Sunday Schools will face inspections under Government plans, a senior Conservative MP has said.
Sir Gerald Howarth was responding to comments made by Sir Michael Wilshaw last week on an LBC radio phone-in programme.
Sir Michael said, “if church groups or religious groups want to run out-of-school classes then they need to register so that the country and the Department of Education know they exist and that they’re being run properly”.
He said that if whistle-blowers raise concerns inspectors will come in, and told the presenter that Ofsted want to be “even-handed” in its approach.
But Sir Gerald Howarth highlighted the contradiction between Sir Michael’s statements, and those of the Government.
Last week, the Education Secretary Nicky Morgan stated that Sunday schools will not be affected by plans to regulate non-school settings, in a letter received by The Christian Institute.
Unless Sir Michael publicly renounces an intention to investigate Sunday schools, the ministers must sack himSir Gerald Howarth
Sir Gerald said: “You cannot be even handed about people who present no threat to this country at all and people who present a very real and present threat.
“It will be Sir Michael and his officials who will decide whether to engage in regulation of Sunday schools which is absurd.
“Unless Sir Michael publicly renounces an intention to investigate Sunday schools, the minsters must sack him – he must go.
“We cannot have an Ofsted inspector behaving in this high handed and draconian fashion”, he added.
Fellow Tory MP David Burrowes also raised concerns about Sir Michael’s intentions for church groups to register, saying it blows a “chill wind across religious freedom”.
Writing in The Daily Telegraph, he added: “No one would stand in the way of a targeted and intelligence led approach to protecting children, but Ofsted’s plans smack of the heavy hand of an authoritarian state that has no place in Britain and I hope no place in Government. It is an outrageous and unacceptable threat to religious freedom.
“It is an attack on the very British values of tolerance, freedom and respect for others which Ofsted and the Government seek to promote.
“Make no mistake, that if the registration and inspection regime comes into effect I will not let inspectors into my youth camp and I expect thousands of others to join me in refusing to accept Ofsted’s new role as religious police”, Burrowes concluded.
The Government’s consultation on plans to regulate non-school settings closed last week.
The proposals involve introducing a nationwide registration scheme for any out-of-school setting providing instruction to under 19-year-olds for more than six hours in any week.
Several Conservative MPs are set to meet Sir Michael and Mrs Morgan this week to express their doubts over the plans.
Sir Edward Leigh is also leading a Westminster Hall debate on the issue on Wednesday.