Ofsted warns of faith schools that 'undermine shared values'

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Ofsted has found an increasing number of faith schools are spreading beliefs which clash with fundamental British values and Equality Law. The schools inspectorate has offered its worrying conclusions in its latest Annual Report.

The report finds an increasing number of faith schools ‘… seek to isolate young people from the mainstream, do not prepare them for life in Britain or, worse, actively undermine fundamental British values.’ (p15) The offending schools were found to be more prevalent in the independent schools sector and included Christian, Jewish and Muslim schools. In some extreme cases schools were found to hold sexist and sectarian literature.

The inspectorate further warned that more illegally unregistered schools are being established to avoid teaching fundamental British values and that it lacked necessary legal powers to tackle the schools. Very many of these schools are faith based and fail to provide pupils with a curriculum that prepares them for work or wider engagement in society. In 2014, all schools in England were required by Government to promote as fundamental values of British society democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs.

Chair of the Accord Coalition for Inclusive Education, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, said, "Ofsted’s findings come as no surprise. It is inevitable that those faith groups that wish to prevent their pupils from mixing with other children are also at odds with some of the values of wider society. Their schools are deliberately being used to isolate children from social trends, gender equality and sexual ethics that are intrinsic to modern Britain.

"These schools should not be flouting rules and regulations, but we also require wider cultural changes to bring them into line. Part of Ofsted’s problem is that discrimination and segregation in school age education has become so ingrained due to exemptions faith schools have been granted to narrow the curriculum and divide people. If government really wants to create a school system that better promotes integration and cohesion then it must not and cannot overlook stopping these damaging practises too."

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