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Poll shows MPs' level of concern over Sunday school regulation plans

Mon 07 Mar 2016
By Marcus Jones

Just 39% of MPs believe new plans to regulate groups who look after children outside of school settings will enhance public safety.

A poll by ComRes, which was commissioned by the Christian Institute, found many politicians to be concerned with the proposals which some say will see youth clubs and Sunday schools being regulated by Ofsted.

Under the Out of School Settings proposals, any group which looks after children for more than six hours a week would be required to register and possibly face inspection by Ofsted if a complaint was made.

The plans are part of the government's counter extremism strategy and it's hoped it'll prevent the radicalisation of young people.

Critics however have described the proposals as the potential state regulation of the Church.

In the poll, two thirds of MPs thought the legislation went too far while only 39 % said they trusted Ofsted to conduct checks in a fair, reasonable and measured way.

Colin Hart, Director of The Christian Institute, commented: "It is clear from this poll that MPs, far from being fully supportive as Nicky Morgan (the Education Secretary) would have us believe, are actually widely concerned about these draconian proposals.

"They recognise that the extension of these meddling and intrusive inspections will have a serious effect on many small community groups, such as bell ringers, sports and youth clubs, scouts and guides - even amateur dramatics. These measures will almost certainly force some of them to close."

"Day by day this policy unravels. As MPs have rightly reflected, the policy is rushed, ill-judged and could be counter-productive. How on earth does subjecting the scouts, bell ringers and sports clubs to bureaucratic inspections - possibly forcing them to close - promote British values and combat extremism?"

The government proposals were subject to a consultation earlier this and are expected to go before both Houses of Parliament soon.

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: "We recognise many out-of-school education settings do a great job in supporting children's education and development but, without proper oversight, there is a risk that some children attending may be exposed to harm, including from extremism."

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