A state-funded free Christian school in the United Kingdom will be forced to shut down after government inspectors deemed the school "inadequate" and claimed that the school's students displayed "discriminatory views" toward people of other faiths.
After the British government created new guidelines for how school inspectors rated schools, inspectors were told to evaluate schools, in their annual Ofsted inspection reports, on how school's promote "British values."
After inspectors visited the Durham Free School, which educates 94 students aged 11 to 13, last November, it was deemed that the school did not meet the required standards for just about every aspect of the inspection: leadership and management, behaviour and safety, quality of teaching and achievement of pupils.
Although the school was praised by the U.K.'s former education secretary when it first opened in September of 2013, the inspectors' report stated that the quality of the student's work was low, teachers didn't have a high expectation of their students, and progress did not meet the necessary standards.
Additionally, the report stated that the school placed "too much emphasis on religious credentials" when hiring staff and the school didn't put enough emphasis in recruiting teaching candidates with "excellent leadership and teaching skills."
After the inspectors' report was released on Monday, the current education secretary, Nicky Morgan, vowed to withdraw the school's funding and, as a result, the school will be forced to close down by Easter.
"Leaders are failing to prepare students for life in modern Britain," the report asserted.
Although the report has labeled the school as "inadequate," The Daily Mail reports that school's teachers and parents are claiming that the school has been victimized because the school's "Christian ethos" made it an "easy target for officials who wanted to show they were promoting the government's diversity agenda."
The teachers additionally told the news site that they believe the report and funding verdict were largely unfair and based solely off of a "throwaway and ignorant comment" made by only one student, who was questioned about Muslims by an inspector. The report states that the student said that he didn't know what a Muslim was but "referenced terrorism" in giving his answer.
"In my opinion, the government wants to be seen to be coming down hard on free schools and I believe we're a political scapegoat," the school's parent governor Petrina Douglas told Chronicle Live. "Obviously, I was in shock because I wasn't aware this was going to happen. We feel like the rug has been pulled from under our feet."
Another Christian school, which The Christian Institute says had some of the best exam results in its area, the Grindon Hall Christian School in Sunderland, was placed under "special measures" and was told that it "requires improvement" after inspectors ruled that the students there were "intolerant," after a 10-year-old was asked what lesbians "did."
In a statement, the school's headmaster, Chris Gray, said that the school was in shock over the the report because it's Ofsted report from from 2014 was way more positive and approving. Gray's statement also indicated that the November inspections featured hostile investigation tactics and that the report included 13 factual errors.
"The Ofsted report issued to us today will come as a huge shock to our parents, pupils and staff because they — along with anyone who knows us — will not recognize the school portrayed here," Gray's statement reads. "It is well known that the manner in which inspectors questioned our pupils in November was hostile, inappropriate and raises serious safeguarding issues. Despite raising these concerns more than a month ago, we have yet to receive any response from Ofsted.
"Playing politics with the new regulations on 'British values' is not acceptable and does little to help our children prepare for life or achieve good exam results."
Colin Hart, the director of The Christian Institute, agreed that the government's targeting of Christian free schools, like Grindon and Durham, proves there's political motivation in the rulings.
"For Ofsted to give the best performing school state school in the area its worst possible rating defies common sense," Hart wrote. "Removing a statement slamming the school's Christian ethos from their final report tells us all we need to know about what is really behind the downgrading of the school."