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07 January 2016

Ofsted in Sunday school? Respond to the government extremism consultation today

Ofsted in Sunday school? Respond to the government extremism consultation today

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

Just days remain to speak out against new proposals that could limit the Church's ability to teach children traditional biblical principles and absolute claims of Christ.

Christian MP Fiona Bruce applied for an extension to the consultation period of the government's Counter-Extremism Strategy, which fell over Christmas, but the 11 January 2015 deadline still stands.

The Evangelical Alliance is asking all Christians to submit evidence, as current proposals would see children and youth work in churches open to inspection by Ofsted. 

The Counter-Extremism Strategy specifically focuses on out-of-school education, including Sunday schools, youth groups and summer camps.

Registration would be required for all education for under-19s that spanned six hours per week - while the regular children and youth meetings offered by your church may not reach this threshold, one-off day trips, summer camps and holiday clubs could be eligible. 

The aim of the new regime is to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, but the Evangelical Alliance is concerned that traditional biblical teaching about sin and absolute claims of Christ could be considered at odds with some interpretations of 'British values' and 'extremism', and therefore be grounds for a complaint. 

The easiest way to respond is by emailing the Department for Education, ensuring you provide your name and role within your church.

The Evangelical Alliance would like all members to respond, but it's particularly important for those with contact with children to consider the points below.

Parents – do explain the benefits of supplementary education provided by the church in your email. 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?

Teachers – please outline the implications this could have for helping out with church activities when submitting your evidence. 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?

Students – in your email, please 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.

Church leaders and youth leaders can find more information on how to reply by reading the full report here

To read the Department for Education's full proposals, follow the link here, or read here our full analysis of the implications these proposals would have on the Church's ability to offer youth and children's work by following the link. 

While the New Year is a busy time for many, the Evangelical Alliance is asking all members to respond to this call to submit evidence, following concerns that these proposals would be detrimental to the life of the young people in churches if enforced.