Ofsted to inspect your church’s youth work

   
       
 

Dear supporter,

Under its extremism policy, the Government is now consulting on giving Ofsted legal power to investigate whether church youth work complies with ‘British values’. Any out-of-school setting which provides instruction for more than 6 hours in any week would be covered.

The plans would easily include holiday Bible clubs, church weekends and summer camps. In effect, Ofsted would become the state regulator of religion. Please respond to the consultation urgently.

The consultation paper says that “undesirable teaching” which is incompatible with British values will be prohibited. Sanctions would include banning people from working with children and closing premises in order to address “the harm caused by extremism”, including “emotional harm”.

The Government envisages a nationwide registration scheme for all out-of-school settings for those under 19 which provide ‘intensive’ education – defined as “anything which entails an individual child attending a setting for more than between 6 to 8 hours a week”. It would specifically encompass one-off events which, for example, only run during school holidays.

So Ofsted would be able to investigate whether holiday Bible clubs comply with British values. It is possible that individual churches could be targeted if a child’s attendance at midweek youth activities and Sunday services adds up to 6 hours in any week.

The consultation closes on Monday 11 January. You can read our highlighted version of the consultation paper on our website.

These proposals are deeply alarming. The State should not regulate Church teaching. The plans would render churches wide open to false accusations. Atheists like Richard Dawkins say it is ‘mental abuse’ to teach children that the Bible is true. And Ofsted inspectors have already been caught out questioning school pupils about their views on same-sex marriage and transsexualism.

Churches do not radicalise children. In fact Christians are most likely to be the victims of extremist actions around the world. We are law-abiding citizens who support democracy and are taught to love our neighbour. The Government is looking in the wrong place for extremists.

Can I ask you to respond to the consultation urgently?

You can email your reply to:

Some ideas for what to say are provided below. Please forward this email to your family and friends and urge them to submit a response by Monday 11 January. Please also ask your church to pray fervently that the plans will be dropped.

Yours in Christ,
Colin Hart
Colin Hart
Director
The Christian Institute


Tips for writing:
 

  • Use your own words. Be calm and polite, but firm.
     
  • Say that you oppose the plans. Ofsted should not be turned into the state regulator of religion. Inspectors should not be given power to police church youth work using vague and subjective terms such as “emotional harm” or “tolerance”.
     
  • Say that you strongly object to such a brief consultation period, especially over the busy Christmas season.
     

Include one or two of the following points (using your own words):
 

  • Ask whether it is the intention to cover church youth work such as holiday Bible clubs, weekends away or summer camps.
     
  • Ask if children’s attendance at public worship will be included in the 6-hour figure.
     
  • Ask if preparation classes for baptism or confirmation will qualify for investigation.
     
  • Ask if the Government intends to include so many innocent groups in its plans, including driving schools, music teaching, cooking courses, drama groups and first aid courses.
     
  • Say that Ofsted’s investigations into Christian teachers and pupils in schools have shown that inspectors are not capable of assessing Christian beliefs.
     
  • Say that the Government’s British values policy is too broad and is threatening Christian freedom.
     
  • Say that it is only in countries like China that churches need state approval for their teaching and activities.
     
  • Say that the Government’s plans are very vague and will waste resources by forcing the investigation of innocent people.
     
  • Say that Christians are law-abiding citizens who support democracy and that you should not be treated as an extremist for your biblical beliefs. Christians are the most likely victims of extremism around the world.
     

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