The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) has said “it would not be appropriate’ to take action against an ordained Church of England (CofE) chaplain who was sacked and reported to a terrorist watchdog for a moderate sermon on identity politics.
Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, Rev. Dr Bernard Randall has been cleared by Prevent, the Teaching Regulation Authority (TRA) and now the DBS after malicious referrals by his former employer, Trent College in Derbyshire.
This leaves the CofE as the only public body that has blacklisted Dr Randall as a safeguarding risk – all because he expressed the church’s own teaching on marriage and human sexuality in a CofE chapel in a CofE school.
In a letter to Dr Randall, the DBS said: “After consideration of your representations, we have decided it would not be appropriate to include your name on the Children’s Barred List.”
Dr Randall had highlighted to the DBS that hearing challenging ideas is not harmful, and that free speech is actually good for everyone’s personal development.
Educate and Celebrate closes down
The development follows the Charity Commission’s announcement that the scandal-hit charity, Educate and Celebrate (E&C), whose extreme gender identity teaching at Trent College led to Dr Randall’s sacking, is closing down.
E&C appears to have run out of funding despite significant grants in the past from the Department for Education. The charity had been hit with several controversies, suggesting that it may have jumped before being pushed.
The news provides further vindication to Dr Randall, who was forced out his employment for telling pupils in a school sermon that they did not have to agree with E&C’s agenda.
Part-funded by the government, E&C’s teaching in schools has included actively promoting Queer Theory and the ‘Gender Unicorn’ which presents multiple genders children can identify as.
The group has also been exposed telling hundreds of primary schools that they are endorsed by Ofsted which has been proven to be a lie.
In 2019, Dr Randall took part in a training day at Trent College that was led by E&C’s Chief Executive, Elly Barnes.
The school’s Designated Safeguarding Lead had reported to the Welfare Team to bring LGBT+ matters into the school after seeing a presentation by Miss Barnes at a Boarding Schools Association School Nurses Conference.
Dr Randall, a former chaplain at a Cambridge University college, was alarmed when during the training Miss Barnes encouraged staff to chant ‘smash heteronormativity’ – the belief that family relationships between a man and a woman are fundamental to a society.
Miss Barnes also falsely told college staff that ‘gender identity’ is protected under the Equality Act 2010, thereby asserting that the school was legally obliged to promote it in the school.
The training day signalled the beginning of Trent College embracing and implementing extreme LGBT ideology in its curriculum, which was at complete odds with the school’s CofE ethos.
Following the Prevent referral and sacking, a safeguarding report into Dr Randall’s conduct by the local CofE diocese, concluded that CofE and Biblical teaching on marriage and sexuality was a ‘risk factor’.
Dr Randall has not given a sermon or been able to work in Christian ministry since, a situation he is continuing to challenge.
£214,000 government grant
In 2015, E&C received a £214,000 grant from the Department of Education to implement their programme across the country.
In a promotional video, which was subsequently deleted when Dr Randall’s story appeared in the media, Elly Barnes outlined the approach of E&C in schools, saying:
“The whole concept of Educate and Celebrate is to treat everyone equally and fairly, and really the bottom line is to completely smash heteronormativity. That’s what we want to do, so that kids can grow up and be who they are. We are all more productive and so much happier when we can be ourselves. So we completely encourage intersectional ways of teaching, lots of pedagogies and usualising, so making LGBT+ people an everyday occurrence within the school. And that can come through simply teachers being ‘out’, it can come through the curriculum, it can come through what you are putting on the walls, and how you are engaging with your community, and that’s our goal.”
The media has since exposed that Miss Barnes has advised teachers that it is permissible not to tell parents if a pupil declares themselves to be transgender, and also said that terms such as “boys”, “girls”, “son” and “mother” should be replaced with the gender-neutral words, such as “pupils”, “students”, “child” and “parent”.
For years, E&C has been featured on multiple primary school websites as an Ofsted-recognised “best practice” programme. However, last year, it was revealed that this was a lie and the school inspectorate ordered E&C to remove any reference to Ofsted from its website.
Further controversy has followed, after E&C was forced to remove leading patron, transgender comic, Jordan Grey, for stripping naked on Channel Four and playing the piano with his genitalia.
Gray had suggested that he went into schools to “talk about gender” on behalf of E&C, adding that “toddlers kind of get it straight away.”
This coincided with Rishi Sunak ordering a review of the Department for Education’s sex education guidance in response to concerns raised by MPs about “age-inappropriate” materials from external providers being taught in schools.
Judge backed E&C
The news of E&C’s demise and the scandal surrounding them is now at odds with the position the CofE has taken against Dr Randall, and an employment tribunal ruling which upheld his sacking last year.
Giving evidence at the hearing in Nottingham, Dr Randall said that: “We would not be sat here today if E&C had not been invited into the school.”
In her judgment, Employment Judge Victoria Butler, several times wrongly asserted that: “E&C is an Ofsted and DfE recognised best practice programme.” She added that E&C “is also approved by the Boarding Schools’ Association.”
Regarding Dr Randall’s concerns about E&C and his reaction to their involvement in the school, Judge Butler said Dr Randall had: “worked without complaint until the introduction of E&C. The School was keen to adopt a school-wide approach to addressing any homophobia and used an Ofsted approved and DfE recommended best practice programme to do so. We are satisfied that this was in accordance with its duties under the ISSR and its desire for inclusivity more generally.”
In court legal submissions, Dr Randall said, however, that E&C teaching:
“Included an uncritically LGBT+ affirming curriculum designed to change the way children thought so radically that it would not occur to them henceforth to be anything other than affirming in ethical terms of same sex marriage. The idea that same sex marriage was equivalent in ethical terms to heterosexual marriage would become part of the air that the children breathed. So too would the idea that everyone had the right to choose a gender identity contrary to their sex. Alternative views would be rendered unthinkable”.
Judge Butler said in her judgment, however, that she had found: “no such finding. [Dr Randall] takes an extreme view of E&C which bears no resemblance to the reality of its purpose and implementation, which was aimed simply at creating an inclusive environment for all. We saw and heard no evidence that came anywhere close to supporting [Dr Randall’s] view that E&C would indoctrinate pupils in such a way.”
Dismissing any concerns about the phrase ‘smashing heteronormativity’ being brought into schools, Judge Butler described it as “an enthusiastic attempt by Ms Barnes to warm-up the teachers at the outset of the day.”
She described Dr Randall’s sermon as: “An act of retaliation against his misconceived view of E&C.”
Dr. Randall is now appealing this concerning judgment with a hearing expected in 2024.
Responding to the news that he has been cleared by the DBS, Dr Randall said: “I am obviously relieved that another malicious referral has been thrown out. It saddens me that it is now the CofE that continues to blacklist me and label its own teaching as a ‘risk factor.’”
Commenting on the closure of E&C, he said: “I would not be where I am now if E&C had not been invited into Trent College, it is as simple as that. As an ordained CofE minister working as a chaplain in a school with a CofE ethos, it was my duty to encourage debate and help children who were confused by the LGBT+ teaching to know that there are alternative views and beliefs on these contentious issues.
“I take no joy in E&C being closed down; but I am pleased the wider world is catching up to the kind of thing I was trying to warn against.
“By blacklisting me as a safeguarding risk to children, the CofE at the highest level, and locally, has been complicit in allowing the far-left Queer Theory agenda of E&C and similar groups in our schools.
“I am aghast at how the courts have painted me and my Christian beliefs as the problem when it has so clearly been exposed that E&C have been the danger to children.
“It is very concerning that a group like E&C has been funded by the government and given so much access and influence.
“There is still a long way to go, but I hope that this is a significant step in enabling our children to grow up without this ideology being pushed on them. They must be able to make up their own minds. And if it is also a step to me receiving full justice – well, I won’t mind that.”
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “Trent College, the Bishop of Derby, Rt. Rev Libby Lane and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, have been unmoved by the scandal surrounding Educate and Celebrate since Dr Randall’s sacking. They have upheld the teaching of an extreme LGBT+ group and have thrown one of their own under the bus.
“Educate and Celebrate have been operating in plain sight in UK schools since 2014 backed by government funding and have been allowed to push a harmful and dangerous ideology.
“Instead of defending Bernard, who had simply upheld the Church’s own teaching, the church authorities have refused to clear his name. This must now change.
“E&C promotes highly contentious theories about gender identity to children of primary school age and older. They have taught them that human beings can change sex and that sexual orientation is just a matter of choice. They cannot stand open discussion and debate.
“In his sermon, Bernard shared the Bible’s teaching on marriage and human nature. He explained that Christians are always called to love their neighbour no matter how much they might disagree. E&C, and groups like them, encourage children to ‘smash heteronormativity’ and teach them about the Gender Identity Unicorn. Who are the extremists and real danger to children here?
“The danger now, however, is that E&C will reappear under a different guise as Ofsted has said they have no power to prevent such groups from going into our schools. The government must take firmer action to prevent any group like this having access to our schools again.”