People are constantly petitioning me to object to government proposals to introduce Ofsted inspections for out-of-school educational groups. I’m not sure what the issue is.
Ofsted is tasked with regulating and safeguarding services which care for children and young people. They already inspect childcare, adoption and fostering agencies, as well as schools and colleges.
As a parent, I want to feel confident that if I send our children to study classes after school, religious or otherwise, they will find a safe, caring environment which nurtures them and does not expose them to harm.
I understand that some are concerned about a politicised inspectorate which will police moral and ethical matters, wherein religious communities might find themselves out of sync with recent legal and societal norms.
A legitimate concern, perhaps, but then so too are safeguarding issues, which have been neglected by too many voluntary education providers for far too long. We are all familiar with the horror stories. Where do we strike the balance?
There are some really excellent examples of out-of-school educational groups providing top-class guidance and care, producing compassionate, tolerant and successful young adults.
But there are also some really atrocious examples, promoting sectarianism, discrimination and intolerance, set in unsafe environments which damage children.
Some kind of inspection, regulation and oversight is required. If not by Ofsted, then by who?