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07 December 2015

Respond to the government's consultation on out-of-school education

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This consultation is now closed. Thank you for submitting your evidence. 

Extremism poses a serious threat to our country and the Counter-Extremism Strategy (CES), published on 19 October 2015, sets out the government's approach. The CES has a specific focus on out-of-school settings and the government intends to introduce a new system of registration, regulation and inspection to keep children safe generally from the risk of harm, including emotional harm, while promoting their welfare.  

The aim of the new regime is to enable action to be taken where out-of-school settings are failing to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, which includes failing to protect them from the harm caused by 'extremism'. 

The Department for Education (DfE) is calling for evidence to inform the development of the government's proposals for requiring certain 'out-of-school education settings' to register and be subject to risk-based inspections. This call for evidence is now open and closes on 11 January 2016.

What is meant by 'out-of-school settings'? 

Out-of-school settings covered by this proposal are those who "intensive tuition, instruction or training out of school". Intensive tuition could be considered anything that entails an individual child under the age of 19 attending a setting for cumulatively more than between six to eight hours per week, including evenings and weekends.

What does this mean for Christians? 

Churches, youth groups, holiday clubs, church camps, Christian festivals, Bible-reading groups, homeschooling events or training courses for those under 19, lasting six hours or more per week, would be subject to registration and inspection by Ofsted under the current proposals. As it stands, a single one-off event lasting a day would also appear to require registration.  

We are concerned about these proposals and would urge all of its members who are involved in the tuition, instruction or training to those under 19 to submit evidence to the consultation highlighting the problems within the government's proposed approach.

The Evangelical Alliance is asking:

Church leaders – to consider whether these proposals will affect your ministries. Would Ofsted regulation limit your activities? Do you consider there is any tension between 'British Values' 'Extremism' and orthodox biblical teaching? Is it possible that a young person participating in the life of your church over a week may meet the time threshold for registration? Are you concerned about the cost and burden of these proposals?

Youth leaders – to consider whether the registering of all events/trips over six hours would restrict your youth work. How would this affect the children in your care? Would limits on what is acceptable to teach affect the way you work? Are you concerned about a complaints process being abused? Would you be less inclined to offer prayer or pastoral support?

Teachers – to outline the implications this could have for helping out with church activities. Would the threat of a safeguarding complaint issued against a ministry you're involved in deter you from volunteering due to the implications for your career? Would your church be required to make multiple registrations? Does your church have the resources to maintain this monitoring process? Would the prospect of an Ofsted inspection make you less likely to help out with supplementary education?

Parents – to explain the benefits of supplementary education provided by the church. In what way has your child benefitted from church activities? Are these activities a valuable source of education and enrichment? Do you value the moral teaching provided by churches? Do church youth activities help with the cost of childcare in holiday periods? Have your children made friendships through such groups?

Students – to list the out-of-school education – youth groups, trips and holiday clubs – you've attended in the last year, and how they've benefitted you.

The full outline of the consultation, including the perceived need and details of the proposed strategy, can be found online here.

Submitting your Response

Engaging with the call for evidence sends a powerful message to the government that evangelicals care about the issue. As members, this is an opportunity to inform the government about the tremendous work that Christians undertake in the area of supplementary education.

There are three easy ways to submit responses:

1) Complete the online form here - you will need to register, which takes 90 seconds.

You don't have to answer every question.

After filling in your details, the important questions on the form are:

Question 12: Give details of the positive benefits that you think out-of-school settings provide for children and the local community, including any case studies from your own experience.

Question 15: Tell the government whether you agree with the proposed criteria ('threshold') of six to eight hours per week and why. In this question you suggest alternative criteria to the government.

Question 20: Should Ofsted be able to investigate out of school settings meeting the criteria ('threshold')? Why might this concern you?

Question 21: Tell the government about the potential impact of these proposals on your church, denomination, groups, families and ministries.

Question 22(b): Apart from those staff who are barred from working with young people, should Ofsted have a say in the appointment of 'unsuitable' staff?

Question 22(d):  Should 'undesirable' teaching, including teaching which undermines or is incompatible with fundamental British values, or which promotes 'extremist 'views, as set out in paragraph 3.19 of the Call for Evidence be prohibited? Do you have any concerns regarding this definition?  Do you foresee any problems with these proposals?

Question 25: Will these proposals have a significant impact on certain people or a certain group of people in society? Please explain why to the government, using your own or other published figures if possible.

2) Send an Email to: outofschoolsettings.REVIEW@education.gsi.gov.uk

Provide your contact details, organisation/role and answer the above points.

Or

3) Post to: Out-of-school settings: call for evidence
             Department for Education
             Sanctuary Buildings
             Great Smith Street,
             London, SW1P 3BT