We have been asked to bring to your attention the Government's recent proposal to allow OFSTED to inspect out of school education, which is aimed at safeguarding children and young people from extremist indoctrination.
As a professional team of children's and youth work advisers we applaud this, as we, like most other people, would find such practices abhorrent.
There are a few Chrtistian groups, however, who see this as a threat to their faith, but they tend to be quite extreme in their own right and, maybe, this proposal would be a threat to their views?
Having read through the paper (link to it below), the DfE define this out of school "education" as being "intensive tuition". "This is why we propose to focus resources on where children receive intensive tuition, instruction or training out-of-school" Para 3.6
What they define as "intensive tuition" is clearly laid out in Para 3.7: "Intensive education could be considered anything which entails an individual child attending a setting for more than between 6 to 8 hours a week, bearing in mind that this could be over an hour every day after school or on one or both days of the weekend. Some children are also accessing part-time schools or tuition centres in place of mainstream school for between 2 to 5 hours a day during the week where they gain much of their education in mainstream curriculum subjects."
So this means a specific individual child receiving 6-8 hours tuition a week. I wonder how many of our churches even see a specific individual child in an informal educational setting for one hour a week, let alone 6-8?
The only area of activity I see this potentially impinging on parishes could be school holiday clubs. However, this has already been dealt with back in the 1990s when OFSTED (or whatever it was called back in the day) suddenly raised this on their radar. Apart from inspections on the grounds of health and safety (the origin of the "Risk Assessment" process), I'm not aware of any churches ever being forced to close their holiday schemes down, because of Government intervention. (If you know of any, please update me)
Even our most formal informal education practice, Confirmation Preparation, rarely goes on for more than an hour and then only for a specified number of weeks. A weekend residential would be an intense period of time with individual young people, but as it is an ad hoc activity, it can hardly be seen as an ongoing form of intense tuition.
None of us want to see children and young people radicalised and anything that makes us re-examine our own practices and instructional content has to be a good thing.
We would encourage you to read the paper (linked below) and, if you have any views on it, respond to the DfE via the response link on Page 4.