Government plans to create ‘integrated communities’ could end up marginalising Christian schools, according to reports. Building on the Casey Review in 2016, the 80-page Integrated Communities Strategy Green Paper, published in March, aims to promote British values and improve community integration rather than segregation.
While the Green Paper rejects a proposal to regulate sharia courts — a move praised by Barnabas Fund, as to have regulated such courts would have been to legitimise sharia law in the UK — Barnabas Fund also slammed proposals to regulate out-of-school educational settings, a proposal that has now been shelved by the government.
In the foreword to the Green Paper, Prime Minister Theresa May said: ‘This strategy sets out ambitious goals to tackle the root causes of a lack of integration, including a lack of social mixing in some of our neighbourhoods and schools, unemployment, and poor English language skills’.
However, other measures, including a suggestion that parents would have to accept any decision made by the school regardless of the family’s personal faith or beliefs, have also been criticised by groups, such as Christians in Education.
Already the government’s educational regulator Ofsted has been seen to crack down on religious schools. For example, in March, it was revealed that London’s Kings Kids Christian School was marked down by an Ofsted inspector for teaching too much about Christ and not enough of other faiths. According to a report in the British Church Newspaper, the school, which has just 25 pupils and has been explicit about being established on Christian principles, was severely criticised following an inspection last year. Among criticisms cited in the report, the school was censured for teaching about creationism rather than evolution.