Danger of extremism in UK nurseries, warns Education Secretary
Newly-appointed Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has announced that funding will be withdrawn from schools and nurseries with links to extremism.
In her first major policy statement since the cabinet reshuffle last month, Morgan declared that all toddlers in UK early-years education facilities must learn "fundamental British values".
Councils will be given authority to take away funding from schools and nurseries which do "not support this aim".
"One of the most importance roles of the education system is that it should prepare young people for life in modern Britain. I am clear that public money should not be used to support any school or early years provider that does not support this aim because it seeks to promote ideas and teachings that run counter to fundamental British values," Morgan said.
"There can be no place for extremist views anywhere in the education system," she continued.
"The changes we are making today will ensure all early years providers and schools are aligned with the need to protect children from views that are considered extreme."
Morgan's announcement comes in response to a campaign by the British Humanist Association (BHA), which saw members write to MPs about their concerns regarding extremism in some UK nurseries.
Of particular concern was the teaching of creationism, and Morgan is said to be particularly concerned about nurseries with links to radical Islam, which reject evolution.
However, according to the Telegraph, a government source insisted: "We are absolutely not saying, 'You can't teach Bible stories'."
The guidelines will be used by Ofsted, and the new rules are expected to take effect in the New Year subject to a consultation with public and early-years providers.
The move also follows the Trojan Horse controversy – the discovery of an alleged plot by Islamic extremists to take over a group of schools in Birmingham and promote fundamentalist ideology.
In the wake of the scandal, which Morgan branded as "disturbing", she declared that "exposing pupils to extremist speakers should be regarded as a failure to protect pupils and promote British values."
BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson has welcomed today's announcement.
"It is vital that every young person receives a broad and balanced education including teaching evolution as the only evidence-based view of how life came to be," he said in a statement.
Though the new measures have sparked much speculation, it is understood that there is no evidence to suggest any nurseries are facing immediate action.