In a recent speech to the Church of England Foundation for Education Leadership (https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/amanda-spielmans-speech-at-the-church-of-england-foundation-for-education-leadership), Head of Ofsted Amanda Spielman claimed that extremists are using religion actively to pervert education and indoctrinate young people. Singling out for particular mention the Christian Institute (which she wrongly labelled Anglican), she condemned ideological indoctrination by Christian extremists, and said that schools have a responsibility to “tackle those who actively undermine fundamental British values or equalities law.”
We would remind Ofsted that under the Equality Act 2010, religion is listed as a protected characteristic, alongside such things as sex, gender reassignment, pregnancy, age, race etc. Ms Spielman’s apparent prioritization of LGBT rights over other protected characteristics not only denies this but, by extension, seeks to alter or oppose the law.
School leaders, she says, must promote ‘muscular liberalism’. “Freedom of belief in the private sphere is paramount, but in our schools it is our responsibility to tackle those who actively undermine fundamental British values or equalities law.” To put it another way, Ms Spielman apparently thinks that expression of religious belief not endorsing ‘fundamental’ British values – here defined as promoting same sex relationships, same sex marriage and gender reassignment – should be prohibited outside the home.
This it outrageous and clear denial of the fundamental Human Rights enshrined in British law since before Magna Carta: namely, the rights to freedom of belief, conscience, speech, and of parents to have their children educated in line with their own religious and/or philosophical beliefs.
While we applaud measures to tackle people trying deliberately to undermine British values and culture, Christianity is the foundation of our culture, laws, and society and in no way poses a threat. It does not lie with Amanda Spielman or Ofsted to make law.
Children must be taught to respect both others and themselves, but Christian schools must not be compelled by Ofsted to teach or endorse sexual behaviours prohibited in the Bible.
We call for Ms Spielman’s immediate censure and removal from office. We further call for stricter governance of Ofsted: that it be made to conform strictly with the law, and to uphold religion as of equal value with other protected characteristics as laid down in the Equality Act 2010.