Thursday, April 03, 2008

Know what we need? More faith schools...

Faith schools, a law unto themselves - Education News, Education - The Independent
The vast majority of faith schools are breaking the law when admitting pupils, according to Government research published yesterday. The study shows that some seek money from parents and fail to give priority to children in care.

A survey of 106 voluntary-aided schools by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) revealed that 96 are in breach of a new statutory code on admissions. Of those, 87 are faith schools.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Faith schools (mainly) charge for admissions...

State schools demanding payments from parents to secure places, ministers find | Schools special reports |
Ed Balls, the children's secretary, said abuse of the system was disproportionately occurring in faith schools and others which control their own admissions. Ministers met Roman Catholic, Anglican and Jewish leaders this week to express concerns. The evidence was so shocking, ministers said, that at one point they considered suspending this year's offers of school places pending a full inquiry.

Jim Knight, Schools Minister, described the situations as "shocking", and councils are to get more powers to oversee admissions to faith schools.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Faith dentistry?

National Secular Society - Faith-based welfare: the hand-over accelerates
Mr Dow revealed that: “The church is signing 25-year contracts for the new academies. Christian groups bidding to deliver dentistry are getting 20-year contracts.”

Bishop Dow revealed that the Government had, for more than two years, “been in conversation with church leaders about the possibility of the church providing extensive welfare services, rather in the way that the church plays a major part in education.”

This is just plain worrying...

Lancing and Shoreham academies?

Teachers Furious At Academy Plans (from The Argus)
West Sussex members of the NUT have already unanimously voted to oppose academies in the county.

Now three coastal schools are threatened with sponsorship from Woodard Schools.

Whither the government's review of academies?

Fiona Millar on the government's review of academies | Schools comment |
The deadly silence since then implies that, like everything else about academies, the review is closed and secretive, although at some stage there will no doubt be a covert briefing, hinting that a report no one can actually read has proved that academies are a huge success.

And third, the grassroots campaigns all tell a similar story about the opaque process by which academies come into being. Key features are a lack of any clear definition of what justifies an academy, covert bludgeoning of local authorities through Building Schools for the Future, and the wholly undemocratic "preferred sponsor" route that hands schools over to sponsors without any of the public scrutiny required by the 2006 Education and Inspections Act.

Fiona Millar rightly highlights many of the most worrying aspects of academies, those that centre around who a sponsor is allowed to be, and the process through which they can take over a school.

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Oldham faith schools

Rochdale News & Features
A two-year research project, launched after the riots in neighbouring Oldham, found that mono-culture schools should be avoided as they divide communities.

Teachers’ unions backed the findings, by experts at Lancaster University, and said academies led by faith groups would not achieve the diversity needed to unite the borough.

Unfit for Mission

MPs investigate Catholic influence on schools - Education News, Education -
The move comes after a 66-page circular from the Bishop of Lancaster, Patrick O'Donoghue, instructed Catholic schools in the North-west to stop "safe sex" education and place crucifixes in every classroom. Schools were also told not to support charities that promote or fund pro-choice policies, singling out Amnesty International – which is in favour of abortion for women who have been raped in war zones. Barry Sheerman, the Labour chairman of the committee, said there was evidence from other areas of the country of Catholic schools being told to adopt a more fundamentalist line.

Yet again taxpayers' money is being used to fund the propagation of religious propaganda in schools.

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Heartsease to go ahead

EDP24 - Government go-ahead for Heartsease academy
A bitter battle for the future of thousands of Norfolk children looked to be over last night as the Government gave the go-ahead to the county's first academy school - and kept the two Christian sponsors at the helm. Schools secretary Ed Balls has sent a letter to those involved in the plan, telling them they can press ahead with the £20m Open Academy in the place of Heartsease High in Norwich.

This despite the controversial involvement of Graham Dacre. There are some minor concessions, however: the academy will not be a faith school, and will have to teach the agreed Norfolk religious education syllabus. What this means for science lessons is not clear...

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Bullied by Lord Adonis

We're being bullied over academies - Halifax Today
We are being bullied and bribed into accepting an academy rather than being persuaded of the benefits of academies over community or foundation schools.

The Church of England plans to build 100 academies by 2010 while acknowledging the jury is still out on whether they are successful. Rather than prop- erly researching the academies it controls, the Church prefers to have faith and multiply.

The public meeting at Holy Trinity was packed and overwhelmingly anti-academy and yet the Labour councillors, who were there "to listen", have now decided they will all endorse an expression of interest in an academy.
This decision has even been taken before the extraordinary council meeting on February 27 to discuss the matter.

Vardy's venom

Politics put before children – Sir Peter - JournalLive
“And I am sick and tired of people referring to our academies as faith schools. Roman Catholic schools are faith schools, Church of England schools are, so are Jewish schools, but ours are not."

Sir Peter Vardy's spiteful comments here show his inability to conceive of why a council might prefer an academy run by Durham University, the North East Chamber of Commerce, and the county council, to one run by his Emmanuel Schools Foundation. he seems toi assume that all academies should be, as a first choice, ESF-run. The only reason not to choose ESF, for him, is because one is putting politics before children (rather than thinking children might not be better off in a fundamentalist, evangelical institution).

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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Oldham Non-Faith Academy?

National Secular Society - Christian-Muslim academy project hits the buffers
Plans for a joint Christian-Muslim academy in Oldham have been dropped by the local authority, because it says there are enough “faith school” places in the town. The real reason is that the religious bodies couldn’t agree on the proportions of places that should be available for each of their followers. The academy will now be sponsored by someone other than the Church and will be designated a “community academy”.
This article also contains a quotation from Ed Balls, which suggests that academies, in future, will have to follow the National Curriculum in science, which is a blow for Peter Vardy, and the other fundamentalists looking to get a foothold in our schools.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Exclusions at academies

Academy looks like a done deal - Halifax Today
According to the Anti-Academies Alliance, academies are excluding students at more than twice the national average, with a higher proportion of children from black, ethnic minority or low-income families being excluded.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Late baptisms soar as parents chase Catholic school places - Independent Online Edition > Education News

Late baptisms soar as parents chase Catholic school places - Independent Online Edition > Education News: "Meanwhile, Britain's faith schools are facing a recruitment crisis with a lack of committed Christian teachers available to take up headship or teaching roles. Liverpool Hope University, the only ecumenical university in Europe, is holding a careers fair next Tuesday specifically aimed at students considering a career as a teacher in a faith school."

This, however, is just sad. The idea that only Christian teachers should teach at a Christian school is, quite frankly, baffling. I went to a religious school, it is now an independent school run by the Church Schools Company, yet I would have difficulty in naming more than five or six or the teachers who were committed Christians.

Indeed, I would go so far as to say that two-thirds of the teaching staff grudgingly sat through the hymns and assemblies, and a few were actively hostile to organised religion. They had no problem in having a job at a nominally religious school, whilst remaining quiet about their own beliefs. Maybe what we need is teachers who are better liars, rather than better Christians...

Late baptisms soar as parents chase Catholic school places - Independent Online Edition > Education News

Late baptisms soar as parents chase Catholic school places - Independent Online Edition > Education News: "Research published today shows baptisms of children aged between one and 13 make up nearly a third of all entrants into the Church (30.3 per cent) compared with just 5.4 per cent 50 years ago. This represents a rise from 6,925 children to 20,141.

In the same period, the percentage of 'cradle' baptisms into the Church has gone down from 85 per cent to 64 per cent in the same period. The figures show there were 108,996 cradle baptisms in 1958 and 42,425 in 2005 – the last year for which figures are available."

It's good to see that even the immortal souls of our children are up for sale, at the moment...