Sir Michael Wilshaw, the head of Ofsted, said they would have to register so the government ‘knows they’re there’.

In an interview on LBC, Mr Wilshaw said, ‘We need to know if a Sunday school is being run, is it registered, is it being run properly by people that have been through proper safeguarding checks and if that is done then we are happy with that and we will only go in when we feel that there is a need to do so.’

A number of Conservative MPs criticised the plans. Sir Gerald Howarth MP called for Mr Wilshaw to be sacked. ‘You cannot be evenhanded about people who present no threat to this country at all and people who present a very real and present threat’, he told The Telegraph.

Christian Conservative MP David Burrowes said the proposal to inspect Sunday schools was ‘unacceptable’ and an infringement on ‘basic freedoms’.

But the Department for Education has contradicted Mr Wilshaw’s claim and insisted that ‘the Government is not proposing to regulate institutions teaching children for a short period every week, such as Sunday schools’.

Dr David Landrum, director of advocacy at the Evangelical Alliance, said Mr Wilshaw’s proposals amounted to ‘state regulation of private religion’.

‘Sufficient laws already exist in relation to the health and safety and safeguarding of young people. It’s misconceived for the government to believe that these proposals will do anything to address the problem it legitimately seeks to solve.’