Anglicans deny obstructing Ofsted

Feb 10, 2018 by

by Bernadette Kehoe, The Tablet:

The Church of England has said that Ofsted’s head, Amanda Spielman, was misinformed when she accused it of obstructing plans to tackle extremism. Ofsted is calling for powers to regulate out-of-hours religious schools which would include Sunday schools. The church’s chief education officer, the Revd Nigel Genders, told The Tablet he had spoken to Ms Spielman since her address to a Church of England education conference last week in which she remarked that it was “a matter of regret that the church has resisted changes.”

Ms Spielman, who is the chief inspector for schools in England, told delegates at the Church of England’s Foundation for Educational Leadership annual conference that they had in effect blocked Ofsted’s efforts to increase its powers of investigation: ”This is not about infringing religious freedom: no one is proposing a troop of inspectors turning up at Sunday schools. Instead, it is about ensuring that the small minority of settings that promote extremism are not able to evade scrutiny.” Ms Spielman said it was “hard to think of a more British institution than a Sunday school”, but warned “some other out-of-school settings operate less benignly.” She recalled how a government plan to require all groups caring for children for more than six hours a week to submit to inspection was dropped in 2016, following an intervention from religious leaders including the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and a group of cross-party MPs.

The Church of England insists it is not resisting inspections of out-of- hours school settings to combat extremism and that it supports “targeted interventions.”

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