Sunday, January 25, 2015

The separation of "British Values" from Christian ethos

Is Ofsted trying to wage a campaign against Christian schools, perhaps seeing them as distant cousins to the Islamic schools that have been causing controversy?  It certainly seems like it, if the decisions in the north-east are anything to go by.  One Christian free school has already had to close, while another - Grindon Hall - has been placed in special measures.  I know a little about Grindon Hall, having met teachers and pupils from there and hearing very positive reports from other friends who have visited the school.  It was doing well enough for parents to pay for their children to go there when it was independent, and not unreasonably the head took the opportunity of the free schools programme to offer his clearly popular education brand to a wider range of parents, free of charge.  Enter Ofsted.  With the new "British values" criteria grasped firmly in hand, they have graded the school inadequate, despite its apparent success in public exams.  The key thing about Grindon Hall, of course, is that it is a Christian school, promoting Christian values.

The Spectator's Damian Thompson is in no doubt that the Ofsted campaign can happen because Michael Gove was replaced by Nicky Morgan (author of the "British values" document), but you don't have to be a fully paid up Gove-ite (I'm not) to believe that there is something rather strange about a good-performing Christian school being placed in special measures because it does not adhere to "British" values.

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