Ofsted ‘misled Parliament’ over inspections
Ofsted has been accused of misleading Parliament over an investigation into claims that its inspectors questioned pupils inappropriately at two Christian schools.
Grindon Hall Christian School and Durham Free School were both downgraded by Ofsted inspectors for allegedly failing to fulfil the ‘British values’ test. Ten-year-old pupils at Grindon Hall, which achieved the best A Level results of any school in its area, were asked whether they knew what lesbians “did”, and if any of their friends felt trapped in the “wrong body.” Students were also repeatedly asked whether they believed in God and whether the school “celebrated” other religious festivals such as Eid. This is despite the fact that the school is funded on the basis that it has a Christian foundation.
Pupils at Durham Free school, which is now facing closure, were asked about how they would treat classmates who were homosexual or Muslim and whether they knew “how to make a baby”. A girl of 12 was asked whether she was a virgin.
Staff and parents were both critical of Ofted’s approach, and reported that inspectors appeared hostile to the schools’ Christian ethos. Parents also voiced their concerns in national media, with one mother reporting that her 11-year-old daughter had been “asked whether she knew any lesbians and whether any family members had gay friends”.
Ofsted’s chief inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, told the Education Select Committee that there had been a “thorough” investigation into complaints that pupils had been asked inappropriate questions about sex , and that the claims had been found to be false.
However, a Freedom of Information request revealed that none of the pupils, parents or staff who had complained were interviewed as part of the investigation, and that Ofsted’s regional director had only met with the headmaster and a “small number” of Grindon Hall parents.
The watchdog rejected claims that it had misled Parliament and said it “stood by its investigation in any event”.
Andrea Williams, CEO of Christian Concern added: “Sir Michael Wilshaw has misled Parliament, school staff, parents and children by saying that a ‘thorough’ investigation had taken place.
“This is serious, and I would urge members of the Education Select Committee and the Secretary of State to revisit this as a matter of urgency.”