Ofsted must focus on the “quality of education, not identity politics”, says Christian Institute
Ofsted should focus on the quality of education and not “identity politics”, says The Christian Institute.
The call for the Government inspectorate to ditch its obsession with forcing primary school children to learn about same-sex relationships comes in the wake of remarks made by the head of Ofsted, Amanda Spielman.
Speaking to the BBC, she defended the lessons, saying they were “about making sure they [children] know just enough to know that some people prefer not to get married to somebody of the opposite sex and that sometimes there are families that have two mummies or two daddies”.
“It’s about making sure that children who do happen to realise that they themselves may not fit a conventional pattern know that they’re not bad or ill.”
But Christian and Muslim parents have raised concerns that the lessons are not age-appropriate and undermine their beliefs that marriage is the lifelong union between a man and a woman.
Colin Hart, Director of The Christian Institute, said: “Amanda Spielman’s remarks today are not going to help.
“It’s LGBT issues that we always seem to be hearing about. Parents want Ofsted to ensure the quality of education. They don’t want Ofsted side-tracked into identity politics.
“The fact that same-sex marriage exists is something that can be covered in secondary schools. Not every controversial issue has to be covered in primary schools.”
Mr Hart concluded: “The idea of teaching ever more detail about sex to ever younger children is deeply worrying. Treating parents who object as homophobes is not the answer. They just want to protect their child’s innocence.
“Ofsted have some work to do in restoring the trust of parents who have a religious faith. Parents read the papers. They’ve seen the furore over Ofsted inspections at Jewish and Christian schools. Now Muslim parents in Birmingham are concerned about the level of LGBT teaching in their primary schools. Instead of listening to parents or allaying their concerns, the Chief Inspector of Schools seems to be casting doubts on their integrity. Implying that parents’ desire to protect their own children is from fear, ignorance or possibly even homophobia.”
The Christian Institute has previously challenged Ofsted over its perceived hostility towards faith schools.
In 2013, St Benedict’s, an RC school in Bury St Edmunds, was ranked as one of the best state schools in the country for sending pupils to Oxbridge. But Ofsted inspected at no notice in September 2014 and downgraded the school to ‘Requires Improvement’. They stated that it is “not made clear how all students are prepared for life and work in modern Britain” – in other words, how the school delivered ‘British values’. Ofsted later withdrew the inspection report after media coverage of the case, but went on to criticise the school alongside other schools in a public letter. The headteacher said: “The continuing accusation that this school is one of a handful identified with radicalisation and extremism concerns is hugely disturbing”.
In the same year, an inspector told Trinity Christian School, a fee-paying independent school in Reading, that it needed to show it “actively promoted other faiths” in the curriculum, and said that representatives of other faiths should be asked to lead assemblies and lessons. Trinity had been rated “excellent” for its provision for pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development in November 2013.
In 2014 the Telegraph reported that Middle Rasen Primary School was marked down by Ofsted for being ‘too white’and Christian. Inspectors said the school was “not yet outstanding” because pupils’ cultural development was limited by a “lack of first-hand experience of the diverse make up of modern British society”. Sir Edward Leigh, the local MP said: “This is political correctness gone mad. Middle Rasen Primary School is an outstanding school by any standards… Multiculturalism is an irrelevance in Lincolnshire with its low number of ethnic minorities, who are already welcomed and well-integrated into our local communities, as they should be.”
Inspectors investigating British values at Orthodox Jewish schools asked schoolgirls intrusive questions such as ‘Have you got a boyfriend?’ and ‘Do you know two men can marry?’ At one Orthodox Jewish primary school, girls aged nine were asked if they understood how babies were made and whether she knew any gay people. One of the schools – Beis Yaakov High School for girls – was placed into special measures and rebuked by Ofsted for failing to promote British Values.
At Grindon Hall Christian School, primary school children were asked if they knew of any boys or girls who thought they were in the wrong body and if they knew what gays and lesbians did. Six-year-olds were asked if they knew anything about Diwali, or if they were familiar with the Torah and others were asked if they knew anyone with two mums or two dads. One mother of a pupil stated: “The questioning was completely inappropriate, they asked her what lesbians were, and whether she felt trapped in someone else’s body.” The former headteacher said “Pupils were embarrassed and surprised to be asked questions about sexuality… The offer of a one-to-one meeting with an inspector, who was a complete stranger to them, in order to discuss personal matters of sexuality was also viewed with alarm by some parents.” The school was rated ‘Inadequate’ and on these grounds was transferred into the control of a different trust, despite at that time coming at, or near the top, of local league tables for both A level and GCSE results.
 The Daily Telegraph, 15 December 2014, see http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/11292905/Catholics-demand-apology-after-Ofsted-makes-unsubstantiated-extremism-claim-against-school.html
 The Guardian, 29 October 2014, see http://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/oct/29/ofsted-jewish-school-downgrade-beis-yaakov-inspection
 The Daily Telegraph, 13 January 2015, see http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/11342529/Ofsted-Trojan-horse-inspectors-asked-10-year-olds-what-do-lesbians-do.html
 The Metro, 23 January 2015, see http://metro.co.uk/2015/01/23/schoolgirl-left-in-tears-over-school-inspectors-lesbian-questions-5033150/
 The Sunderland Echo, 14 January 2015, see http://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/education/headteacher-complains-to-ofsted-after-inspectors-asked-pupils-embarrassing-questions-on-sex-and-religion-1-7049333
 The Guardian, 24 November 2015, see http://www.theguardian.com/education/2015/nov/24/labour-policy-academies-school-manchester