Sir Edward: ‘Put Ofsted in special measures’ on ‘faith’

Sir Edward Leigh
Sir Edward Leigh

Sir Edward Leigh has said it may be time to put school watchdogs Ofsted in special measures following its criticism of faith schools.

The Gainsborough MP said church schools are great movers of social mobility, who perform well regardless of the background of pupils.

“Far from preaching intolerance, these schools, because of their strong, unifying, religious ethos, do more for social cohesion than a thousand Home Office initiatives,” he told the Commons.

Sir Edward said this while moving that Ofsted should “respect the ability of faith schools to teach their core beliefs in the context of respect and toleration for others.”

The MP said Christian schools are “under attack from the forces of intolerance” and secularists “try to smear faith schools with what happened in Birmingham with the Trojan horse scandal, but we all know that none of the Trojan horse schools was a faith school.”

There are thousands of Christian schools and none “creating Christian jihadists.”

“It may be that the time has come for Ofsted to put itself in special measures, in certain respects. It appears to be guilty of trying to enforce a kind of state-imposed orthodoxy on certain moral and religious questions,” he said.

“Middle Rasen school in my constituency was marked down, apparently because it was too British—a strange problem for north Lincolnshire. How many non-Christian festivals does a Christian school have to celebrate before Ofsted is happy?

“The Minister must make it clear to Ofsted that having a religious ethos is not a negative thing. Contrary to certain inspectors’ fantasies of Anglican or Catholic jihadism, the religious ethos of a school has the ability to imbue its pupils with lifelong virtues that will make them model citizens. That should be welcomed, not persecuted,” Sir Edward added.