Headlines: October 22nd, 2009

Independent faith schools are teaching their pupils the importance of good citizenship according to an Ofsted report today. Inspectors who visited Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu schools found however, more clarity was needed in the regulations the schools have to meet and there should be more opportunities for teachers’ professional development.

The report says that all 51 schools inspected were giving pupils a strong sense of personal worth and that primary and secondary age children were being taught explicitly that good citizenship was a requirement of a good believer. This, Ofsted says, means pupils feel they belong, as British citizens, to this country.

Ofsted has drawn up the report at the request of the Secretary of State to test the fitness for purpose of the standard for pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development and the five regulations which the schools must meet. The schools believe the language in the regulations needs to be more fully explained and that instead of the ambiguous reference to ‘modern Britain’, the term ‘preparing young people to be good citizens of the United Kingdom’ should be used.

In eight of the 51 schools material was biased in favour of one group or lacked balance, and in a few cases teaching materials contained incorrect information about the beliefs of others. Inspectors also found many schools worked in isolation with few opportunities for staff to meet other teachers to develop their understanding of their subject, teaching methods and ways of working. The schools said the cost of external training was prohibitive but head teachers said they would like access to subject and teaching expertise within local authorities to support staff development.