Amanda Spielman, Ofsted’s Chief Inspector of schools, in a speech to a Church of England foundation (quoting Psalm 119), commended educationalists who made the focus of their schools the teaching of ‘knowledge and good judgment’.
She also said, ‘Ofsted inspectors are increasingly brought into contact with those who want to actively pervert the purpose of education’.
Since Psalm 119 is all about the Word of God, one might assume Amanda Spielman was targeting those who try to remove or twist God’s Word. But no, her target was those who ‘actively undermine fundamental British values or equalities law’.1
She went on to identify the Christian Institute as ‘the most conservative voice’ in Anglicanism (it is not, of course, the voice of any one denomination), and said, ‘It means that practices that limit young people’s experiences and learning in school’ should be ‘called out’. Her inference was that traditional moral and religious values in education are to be hunted down and eliminated.
It is true that in her speech she referred to schools where there has been an issue with some of Muslim background, but her references to the Christian Institute and mainstream Christianity leave us in little doubt that evangelical Christianity is in her sights.
She mentioned Sunday schools as ‘positive’, but wishes to bring them under control, needing ‘more powers’ to tackle ‘out-of-school’ provision. In effect, she wants control over everything taught to children. Parents, it seems, cannot be trusted to teach their children the correct things.
We need to be clear what her statements really mean. First, there are people of authority in our society who want to supplant parents in ultimate control of children’s education, even though the principle of parental choice has been grounded in British law for a century, and has been part of God’s ordering of our society.
God has entrusted children to their parents to be cared for and taught (with, often, much of their formal education delegated by parents to others); children do not belong to the state. A claim by the state for even ‘shared ownership’ of children2 puts it into direct confrontation with Christians.
Such a claim is not new3, and now the state threatens to take from parental control not just formal education, but ‘out-of-school’ activities as well — in other words, everything children are taught.
Second, the government’s view of what education is fundamentally about collides with that of the Bible. ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’ (Proverbs 9:10) is what Scripture teaches. This is the foundation of ‘knowledge and sound judgment’. However, most political parties have made their view clear, that ‘the fear of the Lord’ is something potentially dangerous and intolerant.
Amanda Spielman pointed in that direction when she said, ‘Freedom of belief in the private sphere is paramount, but in our schools it is our responsibility to tackle those who actively undermine fundamental British values or equalities law’.
However, in spite of these high-sounding phrases, the government’s idea of ‘fundamental British values’ is not the same as the values of either Christian believers or previous citizens of this nation. There are ‘equality values’ affirmed by the state that are opposed to what the Bible highlights as pure and good.
Christians are obliged to bring up their children ‘in the training and instruction of the Lord’ (Ephesians 6:4). These values are those given by God, and we have the duty and the right to raise our children according to them; not according to arbitrary values invented undemocratically by politicians, who add and subtract from them as they see fit, one example being the current push for gender fluidity. The practical implications of this latest piece of folly — that we can declare our gender to be other than what it actually is — are serious indeed4. The government proposes to mandate that all children should be taught that gender fluidity is both acceptable and normal. Yet how can Christians allow their children to be taught such things? And what about the formidable issues of child protection that teaching such an idea raises?
The third point is that it is clear, that those who wish to impart biblical principles to their children are increasingly viewed as dangerous and ‘perverting the purpose of education’. In 1 Kings 18:17, when King Ahab met Elijah, he said to the prophet, ‘Is that you, you troubler of Israel?’
We must face it: the rulers of our country are confronting evangelical Christians with the same accusation. According to them, we are the ones who are perverting children’s education, causing damage to them and the nation.
Elijah’s reaction is instructive. He did not attempt to reason with Ahab or prove his actions reasonable. He was not aiming primarily at protecting his own skin or even the rights of the ‘seven thousand who had not bowed the knee to Baal’ (1 Kings 19:18). He had a much wider concern: ‘I have not made trouble for Israel,’ he replied. ‘But you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned the Lord’s commands and have followed the Baals’ (1 Kings 18:18).
It is not us, but a vocal and influential section of Britain’s governing powers that are twisting the purpose of education. It is they who are corrupting the nation’s youth. They are intent on feeding primary school children with images and ideas that directly cut across biblical principles, while telling them, ‘It is fine to be like this. It doesn’t matter’. For the sake of our children and our nation, we need to ‘call out’ these people and their ungodly ideas.
Battle for souls
We should counter every attempt to impose the world’s sinful agenda on children, by a clear declaration of the truths of God’s Word and the biblical values of right and wrong. We should cease allowing them to be taught that those sexual practices which God condemns are normal and perfectly acceptable.
Indeed, we need to restore the Creator to his rightful place in every part of the curriculum, including science. We still have some right of parental choice. Are we going to exercise it before it is too late?
This is not just a battle for the souls of Christians’ children. We must be concerned for all the nation’s children and for the moral chaos that atheistic education is bringing to our country.
Forty years ago, I wrote an article about these very issues, stating: ‘If we do not heed the alarm bells soon, then we will wake to find the ship has sailed without us, but taking our children into the uncharted seas of atheism’5.
If it was bad then, how much worse is it now? Will we keep our eyes shut and our mouths closed? Or will we, like Elijah, declare that those who pervert the true purpose of education — to inculcate the fear of the Lord — are not the Christians, but those who want to impose their damaging ideas and practices on a whole generation of children?
Michael G. Matthews is a retired architect. At one time he edited Origins, the journal of the Biblical Creation Society (now Biblical Creation Trust).
The transcript of Amanda Spielman’s speech is on gov.uk
‘The first [step] is to recognize that children do not belong to their parents’, Prof. Ian Kennedy, UCL, in The Guardian, concerning the Charlie Gard case, June 2017
E.g. Roy Hattersley in The Guardian (29/11/04), ‘Children do not belong to their parents’; Hillary Clinton in her chapter of All our children (1977).
See article by Dr Sharon James in Reformation Today, ‘What is the transgender agenda, and how should Christians respond?’ (http://www.reformation-today.org/articles-of-interest/what-is-the-transgender-agenda-and-how-should-christians-respond).
CPTL newsletter, January 1978. One sentence from my article said: ‘How would a school be judged that taught a “narrow”, “bigoted” and “intolerant” view of adulterers and homosexuals, or even of other religions?’