School chiefs ‘playing politics’ with children’s education, says headteacher after sexuality questions row

Row: Grindon Hall Christian School.
Row: Grindon Hall Christian School.
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THE head of a Wearside free school at the centre of an Ofsted row has accused education bosses of playing politics.

Chris Gray, headteacher at Grindon Hall Christian School said he is worried schools such as his are being caught in the crossfire over the ‘British values’ regulations.

Mr Gray made a formal complaint to the education watchdog after being told primary-aged children had been questioned about lesbian sex and transsexuality by Ofsted inspectors.

He hit out at heavy-handed and aggressive questioning of students at the school by Ofsted inspectors, but says he still hasn’t had a reply or explanation.

Mr Gray said: “Despite writing to both Ofsted and the Department of Education on December 11, more than a month ago, with serious concerns about the inspection we have not yet had any reply.

“The pupils, parents and staff are deeply concerned that because of the widely reported breakdown of trust between the DfE and Ofsted, schools like Grindon Hall are being caught in the crossfire.

“Playing politics with the new regulations on ‘British values’ is not acceptable and does little to help our children prepare for the modern world or achieve good exam results.

“We are proud of our good results, the best of all Sunderland’s state schools. We have a Christian ethos which our parents love, we have happy, high achieving pupils, and we are over-subscribed - we always have a lot more applications than we have places. Yet Ofsted’s approach to us was hostile – something which the pupils themselves picked up on and complained about.”

Parents were left outraged by the questioning of pupils to test whether Grindon Hall was complying with new requirements to promote British values.

Mr Gray said some were asked if they knew what lesbians “did” and if any of their friends felt trapped in the “wrong body”.

They also allegedly questioned children as young as six about their knowledge of Hindu festivals and the Jewish Torah as part of a special inspection in the wake of the Trojan Horse scandal, involving infiltration by hard-line Muslim groups into schools in Birmingham.

It left Mr Gray accusing Ofsted’s inspection team of adopting a hostile and suspicious stance towards its Christian foundation.

And he said that when inspectors arrived unannounced before Christmas they appeared determined to find evidence that the school was encouraging intolerance.

An Ofsted spokesperson said they are committed to making sure all pupils in England receive a broad and balanced education and that pupils are able to express views which are neither intolerant nor discriminatory towards others.