'British Values' agenda warning

05 December 2014

iSTOCK

THE Government's "British Values" agenda has been hijacked by groups who seek to ban all religion in schools, the Association of Christian Teachers (ACT) has said, in a statement endorsed at its annual general meeting in Birmingham last month.

The introduction of the anti-extremist agenda into OFSTED inspections had already resulted in challenges to mainstream faith schools, including church schools and nurseries run by Christian groups, the statement drawn up by ACT's chief executive, Clive Ireson, said.

"We must not let those who want to see faith and religion removed from every school achieve this through the back door of the extremism agenda," the statement said.

The 800-strong, mainly conservative Evangelical members of the ACT include teachers, governors, and school support staff; a further 1800 supporters receive the organisation's weekly newsletter.

Mr Ireson said that he would be writing to the Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan, and to her Labour Shadow, Tristram Hunt, seeking their commitment to maintained "faith" schools. He will also seek reassurances that the Government and its successor will retain RE; a daily act of Christian worship; and the right of parents to withdraw their children from sex and relationships education that conflicts with their beliefs. ACT will also seek ministers' support for the right of teachers to say that they are Christian, and to wear a symbol of their faith.

Last month, OFSTED withdrew for "quality assurance checks" the report of a snap inspection of St Benedict's RC Secondary School, Bury St Edmunds, in which inspectors downgraded the school's rating to "Requires improvement".

The report had expressed inspectors' concern that younger pupils were insufficiently aware of religious extremism and radicalisation, and suggested that they were not being prepared for life in modern Britain.

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