Make no mistake. This Ofsted plan is a threat to religious freedom

Feb 6, 2018 by

by Julian Mann, Conservative Home:

The level of apathy about the escalating threat from the state to freedom of speech and of voluntary association is breathtaking. One possible explanation for this indifference is that the state is currently targeting religious people, and most British people are not particularly religious.

But a speech last week by the head of Ofsted should be of profound concern to all freedom-loving people in Britain, whether they are religious or not. Amanda Spielman is a campaigner for the regulation of Sunday schools. Her proposals demonstrate the vagueness typically adopted by the politically correct establishment whenever it goes into liberty-grabbing mode:

“One of our greatest areas of concern is what is happening under the radar in so-called out-of-school provision. Out-of-school provision is a mainstay of the work of the church; indeed it is hard to think of a more British institution than a Sunday school. Similar positive activity groups exist in other faiths, providing extra-curricular activities, language training and spiritual instruction. I have no doubt they provide an enriching experience to the young people who attend them. But some other out-of-school settings operate less benignly. These institutions, some of which operate as illegal schools, use the opportunity to – in the words of the former Prime Minister – put “poison in the minds, hatred in hearts” of young people. They need to be tackled. That is why I am afraid to say it is a matter of regret that the Church has resisted changes in the law to allow Ofsted to inspect these settings.”

She insisted in her speech that “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. If we are to protect many of the tenets that the Church holds dear, we need the power to tackle those trying to use education to undermine them”.

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