Consultations, Focus of the Week

Advice or State Totalitarianism?

The [Draft] Independent Schools Standards: Advice for Independent Schools (March 2018): A Manifesto for State Totalitarianism

Executive Summary

  • The new draft advice (March 2018) for the Independent Schools Standards (2014) details how independent schools can demonstrate the way in which they have fulfilled their obligation to actively promote and enforce LGBT ideology under the guise of ‘eliminating discrimination, harassment, victimisation’, ‘advancing equality of opportunity’ of and ‘fostering good relations’ with persons who possess the ‘protected characteristics’ of ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender reassignment’.
  • The legal framework which enables the Department of Education to enforce this agenda comprises a combination of the Equality Act 2010, the Public Sector Equality Duty (2011), and the obligation of schools to actively teach and promote so-called ‘Fundamental British Values’ in order to meet the standard relating to the ‘spiritual, moral, social and cultural (SMSC) development’ of pupils, as established by additional DofE guidance in 2014.
  • The ISS draft advice (March 2018) was subject to a public consultation which closed in June 2018 and we are awaiting the outcome of that consultation. It is a dangerous document in that, if certain parts of the advice are accepted, we would see enshrined into official guidance some of the worst excesses of the OFSTED and OFSTED-led independent inspection regime in its interpretation of the Independent Schools Standards.
  • The ISS draft advice reveals the ‘direction of travel’ in relation to the Government’s intentions towards, and use of, the education system as an ideological state apparatus. The ISS draft advice could well be replicated in the wider OFSTED inspection framework (to which maintained, academies and free schools would also be subject), as well as in the new compulsory subjects of Relationships Education (in primary schools) and Relationships & Sex Education (in secondary schools), as well as Personal Social & Health Education (PSHE) which the Secretary of State for Education also now has the power to make compulsory.
  • The ISS draft advice provides official means for inspectors to fail schools who cannot demonstrate how they are enforcing LGBT ideology and preventing pupils from having or developing ideas or beliefs which conflict with this ideology. For instance:
    • The ISS draft advice throughout confuses and conflates “respect for persons [who would have, or claim to have, these ‘protected characteristics’]” with respect and enthusiastic acceptance of the actions and behaviour implied by possession of one of these ideologically-defined ‘protected characteristics’ – in other words, it attempts to enforce acceptance of homosexual activity and transgenderism.
    • A school will not meet the Standards if its teaching suggests ‘that the requirements of religious law permit the requirements of English civil or criminal law to be disregarded’. For Christians, as well as members of other faiths, this in effect elevates adherence to the law of the state above the law of God, and can be used to quash the principle of conscientious objection towards any aspect of the state’s LGBT agenda.
    • The draft advice attempts to clamp down on all ways in which schools have, up to now, attempted to toe the line for inspectors whilst remaining true to their ethos — for instance, Christian or Jewish schools teaching in a generalised way that that ALL people deserve respect – without specifying LGBT-identifying people and focussing on LGBT issues.
    • The advice explicitly states that a school should not be judged as meeting the standards if its teaching “suggests that same-sex marriages or civil partnerships should not be recognised as being lawful unions under civil law”. This means that teachers cannot simply state that same-sex marriages or civil unions are now lawful in Britain. Teaching will have to promote an acceptance of same-sex marriages and civil partnerships.
    • The advice encourages inspectors to undertake intrusive and draconian means of enforcing the LGBT agenda:
      • Inspectors can invasively search the school and interrogate staff concerning the use of books or any materials found, for instance in locked cupboards, which do not conform to the official LGBT ideology
      • Staff will need to demonstrate how they are monitoring and filtering online activity of students to prevent their exposure to anything in conflict with the LGBT agenda.
      • Schools will not meet the standards if they are seen to edit or redact LGBT propaganda from text books, exam papers or other educational materials. This is significant because the educational establishment is moving towards the idea of an ‘LGBT inclusive’ curriculum for all schools. Pearson Education, for instance, has recently partnered with Stonewall and announced that it would be making all of its teaching materials ‘LGBT inclusive’.

       
      Dr Tom Rogers
      Safe at School Campaign

       
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