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Church Sunday schools will not face anti-radicalisation inspections

By Rebecca Black

Published 28/01/2016

Sir Michael Wilshaw
Sir Michael Wilshaw

Church Sunday schools will not face inspections, it has been announced.

Earlier this month Sir Michael Wilshaw, the head of education watchdog Ofsted, alarmed many by saying he will use new powers targeted at extremists to intervene in Sunday school teaching.

Prime Minister David Cameron unveiled plans last year for Ofsted to crack down on a minority of Muslim madrassas where children had their "heads filled with poison and their hearts filled with hate".

The move gives Ofsted powers to regulate and inspect anywhere teaching "out-of-school" education of more than six to eight hours a week.

This sparked fears among churches that Christian Sunday schools, youth camps and other church organisations would be put through inspections.

However, UK Education Minister Nicky Morgan announced in response to a question by East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson that the churches' teaching activities will not be included.

Mr Wilson revealed that he had been contacted by many of his constituents who were involved in church work with young people.

"Under the nationwide registration of out of school education provision, all registered organisations would have been subjected to inspections to ensure that young people were not being brainwashed," he said.

"The new rules were designed to deal with problems being caused by Muslim schools, where it was feared extremist teachers were encouraging children to become jihadists.

"The head of Ofsted insisted that in order to take an even-handed approach, Christian organisations would also have to be included, even though there was no suggestion that there were any problems with what was being taught in churches.

"Indeed, Sunday schools etc are a source to moral guidance and good direction for children, teaching them that their faith should make them good citizens and neighbours.

"The declaration by Ofsted was yet another example of political correctness and a cowardly way of avoiding recognition that the problem of violent extremist teaching was one which affected some parts of the Muslim community. Rather than admit this, everyone was to be labelled in the same way.

"The minister gave the assurance that this was not the Government's intention, the head of Ofsted had got it wrong and church teaching activities would not be included. It is important that we protect our liberties."

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