The government has been warned against using “a sledgehammer to crack a nut” by introducing new laws to regulate religious educational institutions.
Judith Nemeth, executive director of the National Association of Jewish Orthodox Schools, was responding to calls for legislation from the chief inspector of Ofsted, Amanda Spielman.
In a speech last week, Ms Spielman said the inspection service sought more powers to tackle those undermining “fundamental British values or equalities law”.
While most faith schools were exemplary in promoting tolerance, she said, some people used educational institutions to “narrow young people’s horizons” and, in the worst cases, indoctrinate them with extremist ideology.
The Ofsted head regretted the Church of England’s opposition to introduce legislation to monitor out-of-school settings such as Sunday schools.
But Mrs Nemeth said: “bringing in new legislation that will cause no end of anxiety and trouble to Sunday schools and other groups that exist in other faiths… is certainly a prime example of using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.
“So if, by her own admission, faith education plays such a strong positive role in education in our country, don’t seek to bring them all down, which is what will happen with new proposed legislation”.
Mrs Nemeth said, “Although I can only speak authoritatively about Orthodox Jewish schools - but I am sure it is the same with most faith schools - we do an excellent job in preparing our children for modern Britain, who contribute to society in so many meaningful ways flying the flag for fundamental British values.”
Instead, she suggested that Ofsted should set up a think-tank to focus on countering extremism.