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Wales to regulate Sunday schools

April 2016

The contentious plans from Westminster for Ofsted to regulate religious and other out-of-school groups in England have been replicated in proposals from the Welsh government.

The so-called ‘out-of-school education settings’ proposals have been outlined in a public consultation, and bear great similarities to plans being considered for England.

The consultation, which closes on 6 April, considers how out-of-school activities such as religious groups, Sunday schools, church youth groups and camps should be registered and regulated.

The proposal is that out-of-school education settings that provide intensive education for more than 6-8 hours in any week will be required to register and undergo regular inspection.

In England, this will be done by the ‘Office for standards in education, children’s services and skills’ (Ofsted). It is not yet clear who will inspect such settings in Wales.

State censorship

In a statement, charity CARE said: ‘The proposals, which, if implemented, would open the door for Sunday schools and other church educational provision being inspected by Ofsted, have now been emulated by the Welsh government, which has published similar plans for Wales.

‘CARE will provide supporters in Wales with a briefing to help them respond to this crucial consultation in the next few weeks’.

The English proposals have already caused huge concern to parliamentarians and the public alike, with Sir Michael Wilshaw, Ofsted’s chief executive, confirming on LBC Radio that some Sunday schools and other Christian youth activities would need to register.

Christian Concern (CC) has joined other groups in warning against government intervention in schools. Andrea Williams, CC chief executive, said: ‘What the government is proposing has serious implications on the freedom of our Christian groups to teach core gospel truths.

‘We have already heard the Secretary of State for Education say that children who express the biblical view of marriage being between one man and one woman could be viewed as “extremist”.

‘The proposals the government is suggesting will hand government officials the power to regulate religion in the UK, without proper safeguards. They would provide a basis for state censorship of biblical teaching that is deemed undesirable’.