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Ofsted will not inspect Sunday schools

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The government announced this week that they will drop plans to register and inspect out-of-school settings in response to a call for evidence on the proposal. These inspections could have included church youth groups, Sunday schools, and other church youth programmes. The government has now abandoned these plans which is a significant step to preserve Christian freedoms.

Religious freedom concerns

The government’s consultation report noted that many respondents to the consultation felt that the “proposed system would limit religious freedoms and have a disproportionately negative effect on faith groups.” 75% of respondents disagreed with the government’s proposals for Ofsted to investigate out-of-school settings. Respondents “expressed concerns about Ofsted’s capacity, expertise and neutrality in dealing with such settings.”

Ofsted chief inspector Amana Spielman said earlier this year that it was a ‘matter of regret’ that the Church of England had opposed plans that would have allowed Ofsted to inspect out-of-school settings like Sunday schools.

The government now acknowledges that “there are many legal powers already in place to protect children in out-of-school settings.” The government plans to ensure regulation “appropriately targets the small minority of settings which may be exposing children to harmful practices” without burdening the whole sector.

Christians should not be treated as terrorists

Christian Concern joined with The Christian Institute, CARE, Evangelical Alliance, and Laywers’ Christian Fellowship in issuing a joint statement in 2016 urging the government to scrap its plans to register and inspect church youth work. Christian Concern also published its own response to the government’s consultation on the issue.

Andrea Williams, CEO of Christian Concern said at the time: "Christians teaching biblical truth on Sunday or any other day of the week should not be looked upon as if they are somehow doing something so awful that the State needs to be constantly looking over their shoulder. Christians are not terrorists and should not be treated as if they are."

Links:

Department for Education Out-of-school settings report on the call for evidence. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/698250/Out-of-school_education_settings-Report_on_the_call_for-evidence.pdf

Joint Statement from Christian Concern, CARE, The Christian Institute, Evangelical Alliance, and Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship. http://www.christianconcern.com/our-concerns/freedom-of-speech/christian-charities-urge-opposition-to-government-plans-for-registrat

Christian Concern’s submission to the consultation on inspection of out-of-school settings http://www.christianconcern.com/sites/default/files/20160111_Christian_Concern_out_of_school_education_settings_call_for_evidence_response_form.pdf

Ofsted chief: Sunday schools must register and be inspected http://www.christianconcern.com/our-concerns/education/ofsted-chief-sunday-schools-must-register-and-be-subject-to-inspection

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