Originally published in Christian News
A Christian school in the United Kingdom is being shut down and another under scrutiny after investigators quizzed random students and found them to have “discriminatory views” toward others.
According to reports, last November, members of the Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED) visited Durham Free School for an inspection, and declared the educational institution to be substandard.
“Leaders are failing to prepare students for life in modern Britain,” said lead inspector Joan Hewitt. “Some students hold discriminatory views of other people who have different faiths, values or beliefs from themselves.”
One of the inspectors had reportedly asked one 12-year-old boy what a Muslim is, and the child responded by making references to terrorist activity. OFSTED saw this as being problematic.
As a result of the findings, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan announced that she was cutting funding to the school, which is now expected to shut down.
Grindon Hall Christian School had also been visited by OFSTED, and in addition to questioning children about their knowledge of other religions, investigators quizzed the youth about sexuality. Based on the children’s answers, the school was labeled as being intolerant and placed under further scrutiny.
“Several parents complained to me about what they saw as intrusive and deeply personal questioning of their children in the group sessions,” wrote Principal Chris Gray in a complaint to the organization. “It has been reported back to me that children aged 6- 9 were asked whether they knew anything about Diwali and whether they were familiar with the Torah.”
“In addition, I have also heard reports of primary school children being asked if they knew of any boys or girls who thought they were in the ‘wrong body,’” he continued. “Another parent has complained to me in writing that her ten year old daughter was asked if she knew what lesbians did. Pupils were embarrassed and surprised to be asked questions about sexuality.”
Gray said that he thought perhaps the school was being purposefully targeted because it is Christian.
“It is now well known that the manner in which inspectors questioned our pupils in November was hostile, inappropriate and raises serious safeguarding issues,” he stated. “OFSTED’s approach to us was negative at every stage, as if the data collected had to fit a predetermined outcome.”
Simon Calvert of the Christian Institute made similar statements in light of the report out of Durham Free School and Grindon Hall Christian School.
“The government’s British values regime is twisting OFSTED’s priorities out of all proportion,” he commented to reporters. “Inspectors are asking all kinds of invasive questions and then issuing reports that the parents whose children attend the school don’t recognize.”
But OFSTED denies any wrongdoing in the matter, stating that it interviewed its investigators and found no impropriety.
“To date, we have found no evidence to indicate that inspectors failed to act with care and sensitivity and to ask age-appropriate questions when they spoke to pupils, as they are trained to do,” it said in a statement. “In reaching their conclusions about the effectiveness of the school’s work inspectors considered a wide range of evidence. Discussions with students formed just a part of the evidence.”
However, according to the BBC, Osfted also criticized the schools for not addressing what it called “prejudice-based bullying” and students who speak negatively about homosexuality and those of other faiths.
Durham Free School and Grindon Hall Christian School continue to disagree with how they are being characterized by the government organization. Students and supporters of Durham Free School have been launching various “save our school” efforts as they believe it is rather the government that is being discriminatory in its actions.