A consortium of Accelerated Christian Education schools which follow the fundamentalist Accelerated Christian Education curriculum (ACE) have said they were targeted by Ofsted, after nine of their schools were downgraded following an inspection.

Schools Week reports that ten of the 24 schools which follow the fundamentalist curriculum, were inspected by Ofsted last year, following an investigation by The Independent newspaper, which published ex-pupils complaints against the Accelerated Christian Education schools.

The inspections highlighted safeguarding issues, such as pupils being in “unsafe” surroundings and poor pre-employment checks on staff. Progress in reading and mathematics was also questioned and described as “painfully slow” in one school.

However, Christian Concern, a charitable legal advice service advising the schools on a possible judicial review of Ofsted’s inspection reports, has called the inspections the pursuit of ‘soft targets’.

Andrea Williams, chief executive, said:

 “It’s part of an agenda against these schools. There are concerns around extremism and British values, and these schools have a very strong Christian ethos in the way they teach about marriage, morality and science, in which God is the creator.

That’s a different way of looking at education than the national curriculum, which takes a hard secular worldview. The outcomes at these schools and a madrassa are not necessarily the same. Don’t go after the soft targets. ”

She added the Accelerated Christian Education schools programme had the advantage of being comprehensive worldview, rather than “lots of different ideologies that children can’t make sense of.”

Eight schools were inspected: the Carmel Christian school in Bristol, Greater Grace school of Christian Education in Chester, the London Christian Learning Centre, the Luton Pentecostal Church Christian academy, the Marantha Christian school in Gloucestershire, the Regents Academy in Lincolnshire, the King’s House school in Windsor and the King of Kings school in Manchester.

The Oxford Christian School was also inspected but was already due to close and the Christian School of London closed before the proposed inspection could take place.

Each was given a half-day’s notice of the Ofsted inspection on the DfE’s request, as is usual for independent schools, Ofsted told Schools Week.