THE Department for Education has dropped its plans to regulate out-of-school classes, including Sunday schools.
Instead, the department has established a £3-million “targeted fund” to aid agencies in “tackling the minority of out-of-school settings that seek to undermine British values”.
The results of a three-month consultation that began in November 2015 were published on Tuesday. The report shows that more than half of the respondents were from faith groups (54.7 per cent), and that the main concern given was “around the effect that the proposed regulation would have on out-of-school settings being able to exercise religious and other freedoms”.
The report said: “Many also expressed doubts about the suitability of Ofsted to inspect religious settings.”
In February, Ofsted’s chief inspector, Amanda Spielman, said that there were some out-of-school settings that “need to be tackled”, and that the Church of England had resisted inspections to tackle such scenarios (News, 9 February).
The Church’s chief education officer, the Revd Nigel Genders, said in response that the C of E did “support tackling potential extremism in out-of-school settings, including, potentially, through targeted inspections”, but it did not support their being imposed across the board.
The Minister for the School System, Lord Agnew, said on Tuesday: “It is right that we should build on the high standards we’ve set in our schools so that every child receives a suitable and safe education — no matter where they are being taught — and that we can act quickly in the rare instances when this is not the case.”
The director of advocacy at the Evangelical Alliance, Dr David Landrum, said that “the Government has rightly seen that churches and the activities they provide are a positive force for society and not a threat they need to regulate.”