Nicky Morgan backs Ofsted over decision to ask Christian schools about gay people

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

The Education Secretary has strongly defended the decision of Ofsted inspectors to ask children in Christian schools about their knowledge of same-sex relationships.

Grindon Hall Christian School in Sunderland and The Durham Free School have both complained of inappropriate questioning and undue criticism by Ofsted inspectors.

The full list of questions relayed to teachers by pupils following Ofsted’s visit included:

  • “Do you know anybody in the school who is gay?”
  • “What would you do if someone gay came to this school?”
  • “Have you ever met anybody who is gay/bisexual?”
  • “Have you had ‘The Talk’?”
  • “How have you learned how to make a baby?”

Although parents of children at both schools have voiced strong opposition to Ofsted’s findings, the Education Secretary said she was “unapologetic”.

Mrs Morgan, who is also Minister for Women and Equalities, said that emphasising the importance of diversity and tolerance was a key part of her agenda for “British values” in schools.

In a speech this week to think tank Politeia, Mrs Morgan said: “I’m afraid I have no sympathy for those who say that British values need not apply to them, that this should purely be a special test for schools in predominantly Muslim communities or our inner cities.

“Every school regardless, faith or none – should be promoting British values, because it’s the right thing to do. A commitment to British values means that we also hold to account those schools where girls are made to sit at the back of the class, where homophobia goes unchecked, where young people aren’t being made aware of the many facets of British culture.”

She continued “Pupils in a Lincolnshire school might not have any friends from an ethnic minority in their village – but surely we don’t expect those students never to leave Lincolnshire’s borders? Surely a key part of our responsibility to those young people in enabling them to succeed in modern Britain is ensuring they understand and respect the differences that make our country unique.”

The senior Tory concluded “So I’m unapologetic in saying that no school should be exempt from promoting fundamental British values, just as no school should be exempt from promoting rigorous academic standards.”

Sir Michael Wilshaw, the Chief Inspector of Schools, defended the inspection process at Durham Free, telling MPs that several students had displayed homophobic behaviour.

An Ofsted spokesperson said: “We judged this school to be inadequate across all criteria and the government has withdrawn its funding”.

Staff and several parents at Grindon Hall and Durham Free have rejected Ofsted’s criticism.