Faith schools not targeted with snap inspections, Ofsted insists

Stephen Exley

Faith schools are not being disproportionately targeted in a drive to ensure British values are being taught, Ofsted has insisted.

A third of the schools targeted in a wave of snap inspections failed to ensure students were “well prepared for life in modern Britain”, the watchdog has announced.

Of the 35 schools which were subjected to no-notice inspections in September and October, 23 saw their overall grade drop, with 10 declining by at least two grades.

“In 11 of these schools, inspectors found that pupils were not being well prepared for life in modern Britain,” an Ofsted statement said. “A number of schools were failing to teach respect for other faiths or developing pupils’ awareness and knowledge of communities different from their own.”

Nine of the schools inspected were faith schools, including Catholic, Church of England, Muslim and Jewish schools. The schools were selected because of concerns about their curriculum, a fall in standards, poor behaviour or issues around leadership and governance.

The wave of inspections was announced after Sir Michael expressed support for the idea of switching to no-notice inspections for all schools, in the wake of the Trojan Horse investigation into claims students in several Birmingham schools were vulnerable to being exposed to extremism.

However, today he confirmed that, as announced last month, he had been persuaded against this move due to “logistical drawbacks” such as “difficulties in effectively engaging with school leaders, governors and parents” without the school being warned ahead of inspectors’ arrival.

Today’s report comes days after the watchdog expressed significant concerns about several schools in the London borough of Tower Hamlets, including six independent Islamic schools and one Church of England secondary. These inspections were not included in the report published today. 

But chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw insisted that no school was being penalised “just because of its intake or because children of one particular heritage or religion predominate over another”.

“We simply want to ensure children are receiving a good education and are being prepared for life in modern Britain,” he said.

“This is not about political correctness. It’s being realistic about the diverse society we now live in.”

 Related stories:

Headteacher 'surprised' at as school's extremist links lead to special measures - November 2014

Ofsted: 'Trojan Horse schools have failed to improve' – October 2014

Trojan Horse: New school standards branded ‘unlawful’ by Christian charity – August 2014

Trojan Horse: Report finds ‘clear evidence’ of ‘extremism views’ – July 2014

Emergency powers announced to close schools with links to extremism – June 2014

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Stephen Exley

Stephen Exley

Stephen Exley is a freelance writer, director of external affairs at Villiers Park Educational Trust and former FE editor at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @stephenexley

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