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British Humanist Asociation and church schools

(40 Posts)
Luckygirl Wed 27-Jan-16 17:26:18

This from their latest newsletter:

"We proved that 'faith' schools across the sector are breaking the law

...and now Government is going to extreme lengths to shut us up

Last year, we published an in-depth, statistically robust report for the Fair Admissions Campaign which showed that the School Admissions Code was being broken in various ways by religiously selective schools in England, including through direct discrimination by race and gender, taking into account things like sexuality, medical history, past behaviour, and parents' marital status, and failing to prioritise children in care and children with special needs.

At the time, church groups rubbished the report with disingenuous press releases, but before long they were pleading to Government to protect them from our fastidious work to expose unlawful discrimination against disadvantaged children.

On Monday, the Government announced it would seek to ban us from raising concerns about 'faith' schools admissions to the proper authorities, claiming that secularists (us) made too many 'vexatious' claims against religious schools – an odd choice of words considering that all our complaints were upheld.

This is nothing less than an assault on democracy and the rule of law, and one which robs families of their best means of securing justice and access to local schools. A consultation has yet to be released, and we are still considering our next steps, including the possibility of legal action.

Latest news
Government moves to ban organisations from exposing law-breaking schools unfairly restricting access to children and parents
The Government has demonstrated it is willing to support 'faith' schools to break the law. This is a complete travesty: signalling that the Government is fully committed to placing the interests of the religious lobby over and above the rights of parents."

I thought that some people might find this interesting in the light of an earlier discussion.

Alea Wed 27-Jan-16 17:28:05

I can't believe this topic is starting up again, was there really nothing left unsaid?

Luckygirl Wed 27-Jan-16 17:31:34

This is today's news which indicates that the government is trying to prevent facts about school admission being in the public domain. It is an issue about democracy and the stifling of free speech - something that might be of concern to people.

Penstemmon Wed 27-Jan-16 17:31:53

Sadly not surprised by this.

Luckygirl Wed 27-Jan-16 17:33:04

The previous discussion was about whether faith schools should exist in principle; this is about proof that some faith schools are breaking the rules that govern their state funding.

Alea Wed 27-Jan-16 18:03:12

The previous discussion was ostensibly about the disestablishment of the Church of England. It became more than a little wide ranging, however.

granjura Wed 27-Jan-16 18:04:25

Obviously not Alea, this is very important new information. Thank you Luckyg- and it just shows howimportant the issue is.

Jalima Wed 27-Jan-16 19:47:30

Faith schools not church schools then?

By church schools one immediately thinks of the C of E, RC schools.
But this mentions faith schools which surely would encompass all faiths.

Does it specify which particular faith schools are discriminating on the grounds of race or gender, as I do not believe that C of E schools do discriminate on those grounds.
Many other non-faith schools will, of course, discriminate on the grounds of gender although some single-sex schools admit both sexes to the sixth form.

WilmaKnickersfit Wed 27-Jan-16 20:02:16

I must admit my mind spins when I think about this kind of thing. I believe that boys and girls should be taught together, unless it's a subject like PE. I definitely do not agree with faith schools of any kind and I say this as someone who went to faith primary and secondary schools (RC) and an interdenominational secondary school.

But I am not sure if it would be right to make my beliefs the basis of our education system. Colour me confused. confused

Jalima Wed 27-Jan-16 20:11:41

Think for themselves about what is right and wrong, based on reason and respect for others.

Find meaning, beauty, and joy in the one life we have, without the need for an afterlife.

Look to science instead of religion as the best way to discover and understand the world.

Believe people can use empathy and compassion to make the world a better place for everyone.

Doesn't that all sound lovely and laudable.
However, perhaps that should also mean leaving others to follow their own beliefs, emphathising with others, live and let live instead of becoming so political and belligerent.

jinglbellsfrocks Wed 27-Jan-16 20:15:29

Here here jalima.

granjura Wed 27-Jan-16 20:29:45

Jalima, again you choose to twist and distort what is being said- as you have done again and again. No-one is trying to stop you from following your faith as you see fit, in Church, in your daily life, with your family and friends, and even to convince us all in the open, no-one is disrespecting your faith or others- all we are asking is for religion to be kept out of schools and the institutions and Government of this country and others- and to stop religion from dividing our children.

One person said here that a family had to attend their Church throughout a child's life in order to have access to their Church school- and you are saying there is no selection? This is quite true of village schools, I agree- but NOT in towns, at all.

Penstemmon Wed 27-Jan-16 20:44:57

I was talking to a vicar today , a governor on the training course I was running, and we were talking about developing spirituality in young children. He was quoting a community school where he said he had seen wonderful development of children's spirituality and felt it was less constrained in the community school than in a faith school which felt it had to be linked to God.

granjura Wed 27-Jan-16 21:25:20

In a huge villages, children from families with different faiths and no faiths have no choice but to go to a Church schools, and attend assemblies and other part of the day and lessons with a very strong Christian bias- how can this add up, in any way, shape or form, in 'live, and let live' - please, tell me?

granjura Wed 27-Jan-16 21:29:28

a huge number of villages

Eloethan Wed 27-Jan-16 21:53:16

Isn't it odd that when someone points out that evidence has been obtained showing some schools to be using underhand and discriminatory admissions practices, that there is an accusation of "belligerence".

Are the many religious people who raise concerns about faith schools also "belligerent" or opposed to the idea of "live and let live". The Fair Admissions Campaign quotes Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain MBE, Minister of Maidenhead Synagogue and Chair of the Accord Coalition for Inclusive Education:

"I want my children to go to a school where they can sit next to a Christian, play football at break time with a Muslim, do homework with a Hindu and walk home with an atheist – and with other children getting to know what a Jewish child is like. Schools should build bridges, not erect barriers."

The FAC has also reported:

"Following a report published by the Fair Admissions Campaign (FAC) last year revealing that almost every religiously-selective school in England is breaking the law, the Education Secretary has announced she now plans to ban groups and organisations from officially raising concerns about the admission arrangements of schools. In a thinly veiled attack on FAC and the British Humanist Association (BHA), which produced the report on behalf of FAC, the ban, which was first suggested by a variety of religious organisations in a meeting with Department for Education (DfE) officials last year, is specifically targeted at ‘secular campaign groups’, according to Nicky Morgan. FAC has described the proposal as an ‘affront to both democracy and the rule of law’, stating that it will allow religiously selective schools to continue abusing the system and unfairly discriminate against a huge number of children in the process."

Penstemmon Wed 27-Jan-16 23:10:11

been going on for years!

Jalima Wed 27-Jan-16 23:50:32

Actually, it is not me who has twisted and distorted.
The OP states church schools but the report states faith schools across the sector.
Now, that is a distortion of the intent of report is it not?

Why would anyone want their child to attend a faith school so much if they did not want to go to church? confused - just puzzling.

Again and again? I only posted twice, once to clarify the OP, the second to question the ethos of the HA which appears to be full of joy and care for others.
You can correct my impressions of the HA sensibly and rationally, surely, without being silly and making assumptions about my faith, lack of it, my support for faith schools - or lack of it. Actually you obviously misread what I posted on the other thread because I said I was not in favour faith schools.
But neither am I in favour of minorities trying to impose their views on others who are happy with the status quo.

Carry on with your campaigning.

granjura Thu 28-Jan-16 10:12:53

And again and againe, some of us have tried to answer the question you and others have raised, quoted below:

Why would anyone want their child to attend a faith school so much if they did not want to go to church? confused - just puzzling.'

so I will repeat- because in some areas the choice is between a Church school and a 'sink' school. And because as Penstemmon has said several time, this is at times just a perception rather than a reality in educational terms- but is perceived as such for cultural, class, ethnic, etc reasons. Parents are prepared to bend their principles, and even get up to some incredible shananigans even fraud (I know this was disputed by some- but just a Google will show up 100s of articles showing this is indeed the case)... to get their children into what is, or is perceived to be - the 'best' school for their child- and if attending Church and getting kids baptised, etc, so be it!

In one area I knew very well- a suburb of the town where I lived, near the University - there were (still are) two primary schools. One Church school, the other not. One school had the vast majority of al the children from different ethnic background, most of those from the poorer housing and perhaps more 'difficult' families, and some of the Uni staff children- and faced true challenges not always easy to overcome- the other, the Church school, had all the other children from the 'better' homes and families (although many of those also attended the many private schools)- and the syllabus was (and probaby still is) geared to help with entrance exams for the private secondary schools. Later, due to this division, the more affluent Muslim families asked to open their own school, as they didn't want their children to go to what was perceived as a 'sink' school- nor a Church school with a strong Christian ethos/bias.

Luckygirl Thu 28-Jan-16 10:36:41

The point of the research is not about the existence of faith schools, but about the government trying to squash free speech by suppressing the dissemination of research that shows unacceptable practices by these schools in their selection process.

We have debated before and aired our views on whether such schools should exist at all - this is about the important issue of the governent suppressing free speech. This cannot be aceptable.

Luckygirl Thu 28-Jan-16 10:37:05

...or even acceptable.....

jinglbellsfrocks Thu 28-Jan-16 10:45:12

It would cause an awful lot of trouble, perhaps even with unwanted repercussions, if the government were to ban Muslim only schools.

Elegran Thu 28-Jan-16 10:48:45

Improving the sink schools to be better than the faith schools could swing the balance the other way.

The money allocated from a local authority to a school whose name says that it is for those of a particular faith (they are supposed expected to take any or no faith, but the label and the focus remains) might have made a difference to the failing school across the road.

Elegran Thu 28-Jan-16 10:57:08

Financial support for single faith schools in a multi-faith society could be cut without banning them totally. If someone wishes their child to go to one, the cost should be on the parents or the relevant church.

The other aspect is the one of inspection. If a school is officially licenced (and they all should be or they could be closed down) then it should be officially inspected, and not by inspectors appointed by the same people as run the school.

varian Thu 28-Jan-16 11:55:08

This latest move by a Tory government to suppress legitimate complaints based on sound evidence is an appalling attack on civil liberty - something they would never have got away with when they were in coalition with the LibDems.

I hope that those who voted LibDem in 2010 and Tory in 2015 now realise their mistake!