Monday, December 18, 2006

Vardy's Untruths...

Peter Vardy here says: "It is emphatically not a fundamentalist school, and welcomes pupils and staff of all faiths, and none."

And here he says: "We do hire Christian headteachers. As all our schools have a strong Christian ethos it would be difficult to see how we could operate with a principle of a different faith."

I wonder which one we should believe...

With Friends Like These...

Des Smith, a Catholic headmaster caught up in the cash-for-peerages scandal, has called for Tony Blair to be treated in the same way that he was, as is reported here.

Whilst he might be more than entitled to think that "a cosy chat with Tony Blair at Chequers simply will not do," and in an entirely fair world his statement that "My experience was dehumanising and designed to reduce me to bare essentials. The Prime Minister must be treated in the same way." would be a reasonable guide to action that should be taken, one cannot help but wonder what sorts of people the Government thought they were dealing with.

After all, if you're going to give special privileges to faith groups, and do your best to promote a radical faith agenda, you would hope that those who benefit most from it would not call for your being treated in a dehumanising way, designed to reduce you to bare essentials. Whatever that might mean...

PS - It's also notable that rather than calling for a revision of police procedures, so that other people avoided the treatment he got, Des' main concern is to ensure that everyone else gets screwed as royally as him. That is Christianity in action.

No More Faith Schools, Say Headteachers

In contrast with the article below, this one, which appeared in the same newspaper on the same day, comes to the opposite conclusions.

Only 9% of headteachers agree with the Prime Minister that there should be more faith schools. One wonders why this did not interest Martin Wainwright as much as the talk of 'lizards' and the opening of doors at King's.

In An Ideal World...

This is a fawning, uncritical portrait of Peter Vardy by Martin Wainwright, the Guardian's Northern editor. Every serious question is elided or dodged, and the article is not comprehensive enough to provide any real security of mind. Naturally, the fundamental questions about whether a religious school should receive state funding are not even addressed.

*Edit* And let's not forget this: "Last year, as part of a wider investigation, the Guardian revealed that the number of children eligible for free school meals at Kings, the standard indicator of deprivation, had dropped by more than 100 compared with the school it replaced, leading to renewed claims that it was cherry-picking pupils who were easier to teach."

Saturday, December 16, 2006

What It Looks Like From Over There

Here is an interview with Sir Peter Vardy. I give it to you without comment...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Faithless City Technical Colleges?

Here's a good history of Keneth Baker's failed City Technical Colleges programmeof the late 1980s. Some may spot similarities with another controversial policy...

Monday, June 26, 2006

Academies (amongst other things) can increase racial divisions

The CRE has expressed concerns about evidence suggests that the government's educational 'reforms' will lead to an increase in racial and religious segregation. CRE Policy Chief Nick Johnson told the Educational and Skills Committe that giving parents greater choice led to them 'banding together', thus leading children to their being exposed to less diversity.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

And so it goes on...

According to this article in the Yorkshire Post ministers have ignored their own guidelines to push the Academy Schools through. I'm not sure it needs any more comment...

A Trinity of Horror Stories

This article relates some of the more absurd occurrences at Sir Peter Vardy's Trinity School in Doncaster. These include:

A student being excluded for wearing the wrong trousers.

A student being excluded for walking the wrong way down a corridor.

A student permanently expelled for smoking.

In all, 148 students have been suspended this year. I, myself, went to a fairly disciplinarian school, and the difference with Academy schools seems to be that they appear to be excluding students (who in the past would have got detentions) in an attempt to bolster their results. Unsuccessfully, as can be seen in the post below.

Another intersting element to the article, was this:

"Last year, as part of a wider investigation, the Guardian revealed that the number of children eligible for free school meals at Kings, the standard indicator of deprivation, had dropped by more than 100 compared with the school it replaced, leading to renewed claims that it was cherry-picking pupils who were easier to teach."

I had missed this before, and will try to follow it up soon.

Students do not do better at Academy schools...

As if the venality and corruption associated with them were not enough, as if the sale of education to private interests were not enough, now we find out that they do nothing he help students achieve better grades. Can there possibly be any justification for them now?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Rise of Creationism

This Guardian article looks at the recent rise of creationism in Britain, and puts it in a world wide conrext, as well as talking to some of those responsible.

"Of course, some fossils are older than others, but there are none that predate the first major catastrophe - which was the great flood that took place about 4,500 years ago." That there are people, trained ass geologists, in the world who believe this and are doingtheir best rto make others believe it is one of the reasons why we must start building academy schools of our own. They aren't oging to stop until they are forced to. Let's show them that our ideas are more appealing than theirs...

Sunday, April 30, 2006

So, who can sponsor a school?

According to the government, anyone can. Despite Ruth Kelly's claims that only 'appropriate organisations' could, the government's guidance now suggests that anyone except gamblers and pornographers can. This shows quite how much this government views the acquisition of wealth to represent moral good.

It does, however, bode well for our project. Simply wishing to start secular, humanist schools, then, there can be no objection in terms of the suitability of the sponsors. It will be interesting to see what will happen when the Jedi and the Wiccans get their acts together. Shame there are no evangelical Satanist car dealers to really shake things up a bit...

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

In Praise of Corruption

Tony Blair offered this explanation for the cash for honours crisis in the academies system yesterday: "I think if someone gives £2m of their own money, time, effort, energy, years of hard work - isn't that something we should be saying 'that's a great thing that they have done'?"

Let us note that he does not specify what they should be doing in order for them to gain our praise. Drug dealers pulling off a major deal, celebrities having their own houses built, Roman Abramovich - all of these fulfil the criteria he sets out. How you give £2 million of your own time I do not know. Or £2 million of your energy - presumably you'd get a special tarriff from your electicity provider if you were spending that much...

Wonderfully, Tony has given us the perfect rationale for bribing the government: "Look, if someone goes to the effort of buying a minister a house, thereby saving the public purse that cost, takes them on holiday, maybe pays their kids' school fees - shouldn't we be celebrating that, not condemning it? The problem with Britain is that we are so hidebound by our disinclination for 'corruption'. My new, reformed 'morality..."

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Too Optimistic?

This article is rather optimistic in its assessment of the academy scheme crumbling. However, it does point out that of the first 100 academy schools, a third will have faith sponsors.

As it points out, the only people who will be deterred from investing in academy schools as a result of the adverse publicity of the last week, will be those who had truly philanthropic motives, and do not want to be tarred with the brush of corruption. Thoxse who do not care will still be happy to buy schools and peerages.

'As Chris Waterman, executive director of the Confederation of Children's Services managers, puts it: "you pay 10% of the purchase price to buy the freehold of an academy but you get a trust for nothing; that is not selling but giving away the family silver".'

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Why Do We Want Faith Schools?

This is a good article from Peter Wilby about our assumptions about faith schools, and the impact religion has upon people. Particular highlights are:

"As I have argued here before, religion has a magnificent record of inspiring art, architecture, music, literature and even scientific inquiry. It has completely failed to improve human behaviour. Rather, it tends to persuade people that, provided they are believers, they can get away with anything.

"This may explain why several Christian sponsors of city academies come from what most of us would regard (without implying any actual dishonesty) as slightly dodgy occupations. At least two are car dealers, hardly a trade noted for its ethical standards."


"Likewise, today’s parents rationally calculate that they should at least have their children christened and send an occasional donation for the church roof, stepping up their commitment according to the state of local schools as the child approaches 11.

"No wonder the churches are so keen to sponsor schools. It is by far the most effective form of promotion they have."

La La La! Lord Adonis Can't Hear You

The unlelected Education Minister Lord Adonis yesterday gave a typically Blairite defense of the city academies scheme. It seems staggering in the 21st century that Tony Blair could ennoble on of his advisers and appoint them to being a minister for education, and yet what is more staggering is the way in which the Blairite faction are incapable of seeing any errors in their way of thinking.

Lord Adonis said: "I have had nothing but statements of support this week" (he has obviously not read any of the newspapers or read any polls); "It would be absolutely wrong for us to slow down now." (simply a patent untruth - caution and evaluation of success are never 'absolutely wrong); he insisted that nothing improper had taken place (the fact that he can see what we know went on as 'proper' shows the extent to which the Blair government is steeped in venality and corruption).

To Evangelise or Not To Evangelise...

It is reasonable to believe Mr Eric Payne when he says: "Some recent media reporting and TV programmes seem to have had a preconditioned agenda seeking to mock and destroy the evangelical arm of the Church. Linking this to certain academies was both misleading and invalid.

"Academies are required to have a clear ethos. Whilst the new academy will operate within a framework of Christian values it is not there to evangelise or indoctrinate."

He admits to being an evangelical Christian, the basis of whose Charisrtianity is evangelising. They have a duty to spread the good news, and yet he claims that an institution he is sponsoring, which will have 'Christian' values will not attempt to evangelise.

Mr Payne is either not doing his duty to his God, or to the children in his care, much as he might like to have it both ways.

Also, is it 'misleading and invalid' to link evangelical groups to city academies when they are the sponsors of city academies?

He goes on to claim that: "Amongst others, teachers, local employers and the community will benefit." This is despite the fact that the teachers will not have any of the same protections under law that their colleagues in the state sector do.

Another One Bites The Dust

Andrew Rosenfield of Minerva donated £2.5 million to the city academies programme, lent the Labour Party £1 million in secret, his predecessor lent the Labour Party £2.3 million, months before they secured planning permission for a £500 million shopping centre in Croydon. Mr Rosenfield has now had to resign as it becomes clear that he may be questioned by the police.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The End of Comprehensive Education

This article by Melissa Benn and Fiona Millar is a good summary of the ways in which the Education Bill is an outright attack on comprehensive education. It gives interesting depth to the arguments about pupils being forced to choose an academic or vocational path at 14.

Jamie Oliver would be proud...

Steve Sinnott here proves that almost any argument can be made to revolve around Turkey Twizzlers...

One step forward...

This is all the information I have at the moment about the NUT's decision to support the existence of faith schools. It seems odd, as it comes at a time when everyone else's faith in them is waning...

Academies Represent the Venality of Blairism

This is Jonathan Freedland's perceptive article about how the flaws in the ways the city academies scheme were devised and implemented are natural reults of Blairism. I would say that this is true of all of his public service reforms: the denigration of the professional and the promotion of a mythical choice; the adoption of market mechanisms over common wealth; these are all symptomatic of Blair's ideological rabidity.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

It can be done!

This article contains a reference to Northcliffe School, near Doncaster. At this school parents exercised their choice to prevent the school becoming an academy sposored by the Emmanual Schools Foundation (Peter Vardy's organisation). 90% of response during a consultation was unfavourable. Is this model sustainable across the country?

Education, Education, Incarceration

Des Smith, one of the designers of the City Academy policy, was arrested last Thursday. He is being held as part of the investigation into the sale of honours. Mr Smith was a part of the body which recruited sponsors for academy schools. Eight sponsors who made gifts have since received honours from the Labour government. It is satisfying yet unsurprising that one of our most venal policies in a long time, the sale of our children's futurem should have been implemented by someone who was open about the buying of power. However, suggestions that the buying of honours is any more corrupt that the buying of the curriculum are laughable. Fortunately, it is more prosecutable...

Link to the story.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Worrying Implications for the National Curriculum

This article from the Socialist Worker (yes, I know!) draws attention to an aspect of the new Schools Bill which has, up until now, been almost completely ignored. Whilst this site's real concern is the setting up of divisive faith academies, the requirement for 14-year olds to be separated into two curricula, one for the 'academic' students, and one for the 'vocational' students is no less worrying.

Christian Group Opposes Faith Schools

Christian group Ekklesia also opposes faith schools, on the grounds that "faith should be a free choice, not one imposed on others through a ‘Christendom’ style deal between religious and political leaders." This article explains their position in more depth...

"The Church of England’s education supreme also appeared to attack what he deemed the “French secular system” of teaching about religion but not teaching religion itself.

But the ‘phenomenological approach’, which seeks to get pupils to understand the lives of believing and non-believing life stances without proselytising is well rooted in British educational theory, and widely accepted as a way of informing about religion without pushing for or against it.

Teaching religious faith is a matter for faith communities, not state schools which are there for all irrespective of creed or background, argue opponents of faith-based systems in the state sector.

But Canon Hall argues that faith schools enable “people in faith communities to grow in self-respect and understanding, and therefore to grow in respect for others.”

“The Church of England is defending its entrenched interests in a way which may be in danger of legitimating more extreme religious groups, sidestepping arguments about fairness and reducing Anglicanism to a semi-imposed civic religion," commented Ekklesia’s co-director, Simon Barrow.

Last year the Roman Catholic Cardinal for England and Wales and a senior Anglican bishop both admitted to qualms about Christian children going to a Muslim school, undermining the argument that faith schools are neutral. "

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

'Most' Pupils Will Be Accepted...

This information, originally taken from the DfES website tells us the following:

"Will pupils from a school replaced by an Academy be guaranteed a place there?
We expect most pupils at schools replaced by Academies to have the option of transferring to the Academy."

The answer, then is 'no'. Not all pupils will automatically be guaranteed a place when their school is replaced by an Academy schoool. One might wonder, why not? And, where are these pupils (who used to attend the school, and have not been excluded) meant to go?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

More Encouraging Words From The Moderate Wing Of The Church

In this article we learn that the head of the Scottich Episcopalian Church, Rev Bruce Cameron, agrees with Dr Rowan Williams. The Church of Scotland and the Catholic Church in Scotland also support this position.

An intriguing addition to Dr Williams' comments was that he said: "It's not the same as saying Darwinism is the only thing that ought to be taught. My worry is creationism can end up reducing the doctrine of creation, rather than enhancing it." and I am not sure what that means. Is he suggesting that intelligent design be taught? How does one reduce the doctrine of creation?

Now all we have to do is to convince these people that the issue is so important that it should not be left in the hands of private interests. Peter Vardy will always want to teach Creationism, it will always be damaging to children to whom it is taught. Should we be not only allowing but encouraging this?

Let's finish with the surprisingly sane words of Father Michael McMahon, a Catholic scholar in Scotland: "The Hebrews, the people who composed the Book of Genesis, didn't believe it was first-hand reportage, that there was someone peering behind the trees writing it all down. The book is a literary thesis about the creativeness of the world, not a description of the scientific process by which the world was created.

"You don't read Genesis as you do a science book. To do that is to reduce what it is trying to do, which is explain the relationship between human beings, one to another and those to God."

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Could The Archbishop of Canterbury Be A Secret Fathless Academies Supporter?

In this article Dr Rowan Williams argues that Creationism is a 'category mistake', and that it should not be taught in any schools. However, he supports Muslim faith schools as being a potential force for 'normalising' Islam in society.

This is an odd statement, although it does suggest that Dr Williams has signed up to the notion that "all faith is good faith, especially when it's moderate and liberal like mine", which seems to be the thrust of modern government thinking. He fails to recognise that teaching in Muslim schools could be just as backward and destructive as that of Creationism.


Birmingham's Three Academies

This article nicely highlights the problems with the three city academies set up by Peter Vardy in Birmingham. It raises the interesting issue of how separate and religiously-charged schooling has exacerbated Northern Ireland's problems.

"This is a progressive Bill. A reforming Bill. A Labour Bill."

Ruth Kelly said that, and it is typical of the Orwellian double-speak employed by the Labour party as soon as it is about to sell off anpther piece of the country's heritage to the private sector. It may help us to examine it in a little more detail:-

THIS IS A PROGRESSIVE BILL - This Bill will enable the taxpayer to foot most of the bill for schools which will be teaching Creationism. This is not a progressive bill.

THIS IS A REFORMING BILL - This takes control of schools out of the hands of LEAs, and puts it into the hands of private companies, individuals and faith groups. To take power from local communties, and sell it (at the bargain price of £2 million per school) to private interests. This may well be a reform, but it is a reform back to the nineteenth century. We saw much the same thing when Tony Blair abolished hereditary peers, thereby 'reforming' the House of Lords back to the 1280s. This is not a reforming bill.

THIS IS A LABOUR BILL - This is a bill which would be rejected by any Labour party conference, and one for which around 15% of all Labour MPs couldn't bring themselves to vote. It is utterly out of step with the traditions and heritage of the Labour Party. This is not a Labour bill.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Give cash and help set up our first Faithless Academy!

Peter Vardy has lots of money. Peter Vardy can start lots of schools.

We have very little money, enough to start no schools yet. However, as you can see, there is now a lovely button on the right hand side of the screen, allowing you to give as much or as little as you like to the cause of promoting inclusive, evidence-based education.


BHA Press Release

This is a copy of the BHA press release, which explains humanist arguments against publicly-funded faith academies. It also points out that many academies may have higher grades at GCSE because they have much higher levels of exclusion (expulsion).

However, where I differ from the BHA on this is that they do not think that there is any need to build separate, humanist, secular schools, and they say on thbeir website that that is just as bad as building faith schools. I do not think that building schools dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge rather than dogma is, in itself, a provocative act. In fact, I think it is entirely reasonable that atheists and secular humanists use legislation that is being used to promote religious interests to promote their own views.

We live in an age which refuses to distinguish between beliefs. Apparently, they are all equally valid, despite the fact that if some of them are true then the others cannot be. I suggest that we take advantage of this climate to advance our lack of beliefs as single-mindedly as any Creationist or fundamentalist Muslim.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Norwich doesn't want faith academies...

This is a story about opposition to faith academies in Norwich. Surely an important element of choice is allowing a local community to choose none of the government's favoured options?

The myth of 'choice' is one that has been utterly embraced by a Labour government, but it is a myth, especially in transport, education and healthcare. We do not need to choose which operations we should have, nor are we equipped to best make those choices. Hospital league tables will not provide us with that information. We train doctors for a decade to make those choices for us.

The same applies in education. Not all education is equal, and, in the past, we have entrusted teachers and educators to make choices about how best to provide education ansd of what it should consist. The right of a parent to choose poor, faith-based education is not, and should not be more important that the right of a child to be educated well.

The point of comprehensives

Peter Wilby's article on the ideological underpinnings of comprehensive schools are a good idea of why they are such a sacred cow for so many. The purpose of education in promoting an inclusive and tolerant society is well-covered, as is the divisive nature of academiy schools.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The History of 'Academy' Schools

Simon Jenkins here discusses the history of academy schools, showing that the Tories tried and failed to introduce them at many points during the 1980s. It is interesting to ask what the difference between these new schools and the grant-maintained schools Labour was so keen to close in 1997 is.

This has been a bad idea for the last 20 years, but it looks as though it will become law. We must raise funds for secular academies, and schools in which business interests are not in control of the curriculum.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

"There will be a widespread welcome for today's announcement by the main religious organisations that children in faith schools should, as a matter of course, be taught about all the major faiths.

This confirmation that a broad religious education should take place within all faith schools demonstrates their explicit commitment to promoting inclusion and tolerance which have never been more important in our society." Ruth Kelly, 22nd February, 2006

The key word here, of course, is 'should'. Whereas, in the past, we have sen it as right and fitting to impose restrictions on schools to assure that certain provisions were provided (such as the national curriculum), we now are preparing to replace 'must' with 'should'.

This is especially worrying when it comes to the teaching of religion, as the way in which it is taught is obviously a fundamental concern for everyone in the 21st century. Why does teaching more and more about a wider range of irrational beliefs (perhaps only with the aim of promoting one of them above the others) strike us as an example of a 'commitment to promoting inclusion and tolerance', when, if followed to its extreme, it is quite the reverse.

"A strong ethos is important to raising standards in any school, regardless of whether that ethos is faith based or not." Ruth Kelly, 22nd February

So, presumably, non-faith schools are just as good at educating childen, and better at not having them turn into religious fanatics. Would it not be best to try and create more secular schools, then?

"That ethos, of course, must reflect the values and goals of their community in which these schools are based."

Must it? What if the values and goals of a local community directly conflict with those of society as a whole? I went to school in Caterham in Surrey, should my school have promoted a sense of privilege, conspicuous consumption and casual racism? It did, but should it? And should it have been designed to?

This is not to say that local communities do not have local needs, but that too much emphasis on them is a step back for education, a move towards a more American system, in which intelligent design can be taught in publicly-funded schools. Some beliefs are just wrong, and, if one has the misfortune to grow up in an area where many peopel hold those beliefs, why should we compound them by rteinforcing them at school. School should be a place to go to get away from the demand of the local community, not to have the conformity it demands enforced on one in a place of learning as well.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Patterns of Sponsorship

This is a story by someone who has studied what sorts of people sponsor academy schools, and it shows how flawed the theory of academy schools is. Highlights include:

"While diversity is an explicit aim of educational policy, diversity of sponsorship is limited. Over half of academies (53%) are sponsored by business (mostly individual business people)."

"This is not to question the motivations or the appropriateness of particular sponsors giving their support to education. But sponsorship tends to reflect the existing pattern of social and economic power: the people and organisations who already have advantages and influence will have most sway over the future education of our children - there is an inherent conservatism in the system."

Friday, February 10, 2006

Pointless architectural schadenfreude...

There is no point to this, it is symptomatic of nothing, points out none of the problems inherent in involving the private sector in the provision of education, and it nothing to do with faith groups. It is, however, very funny.

Although it is pleasing when the government adviser on academies thinks they're for oddballs. 'Sir Cyril also attacked some of the original specialist subjects adopted by academies as "just weird".'

Results at City Academies

Given that the results from many Academy schools weren't all that good, they should probably ask for their money back.

First Islamic Faith Academy

This article tells of the first Muslim faith school to be openend in Bradford.

The assertion that 'faith schools', generally, are a good thing is one that holds no water. Even if one of the many faiths (and it should be good to see Satanist and Wiccan academies springing up across the country with state funding) is true and right, that means, necessarily, that the others cannot be. How can a committed adherent of a specific faith, who must believe that adherents of others must be misguided, if not hell-bound, possibly suggest that 'faith' in a general sense is a good thing?

How can 'faith' be good in and of itself, with no relation to what one has faith in? Faith is an irrational belief in something, surely the thing in which one has an irrational belief is important?

Of course, there are those of us who would argue that irational belief of any kind is not a particularly good basis for education...

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

"Wholesale privatisation"

The Headteacher of William Hulme Grammar School plans for it to become an academy school in September 2007. This is because he, Mr Stephen Patriarca, thinks that "If the trust schools go ahead we are talking about wholesale privatisation, and in my view that is a good thing."

Many of us would not agree that 'wholesale privatisation' of our children's futures was not entirely 'a good thing'. Many of us would argue that it is too precious to be left in the hands of private enterprise, and sectional interests. Many of us agree with Mr Patriarca that this is, nevertheless, what the government is trying to institute. We shoudl thank Mr Patriarca for saying it so clearly.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Faith Academy FAQs

Here's a nice dissection of some of the givernments FAQs about City Academies. It nicely highlights that these schools are a good way of removing education from local control, and centralising it, as they will only be answerable to the Secretary of State, not LEAs.

"All applicants for school places must be considered, though the Code of Practice allows faith schools to give priority for admission to children on the basis of religious affiliation." It is obviously very heartening to know that your child must be 'considered' by any religious school, but that 'priority will be given' on the basis of 'religious affiliation'. Thus, religious organisations can use schools to force parents to attend church or mosque or gurdwara and thus swell their coffers even more.

The need for schools devoted to secular humanism is greater than ever, whilst New Labour is clearly trying to increase the numbers of the devout through odd pieces of social engineering like City Academies...

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Why we need Faithless Academies...

This report into the views of the British public regarding evolution is, in some ways, quite worrying, especially the fact that people over 55 are more likely to believe in evolution than those under 25. The fact that 22% of the British public believe that creationism is the best way to describe the way in which the world was created is especialy worrying when one considers how few of those people are actually committed Christians who attend church, although we should not overlook the possibility that they may be of other religions, not just Christianity...

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

When neither the right not the left agrees with you...

"The 1944 and 1965 reorganisations sought to break the dominance of religion and class over public-sector schooling in Britain. To a large extent they succeeded. Ever since, religion and class have been fighting their way back. Blair and Adonis are their latest champions. This is archaic." Simon Jenkins, ex-editor of The Times and The Evening Standard, in this article

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

They're Not Even Any Good

There has been muchcriticism of the performance in 'academy schools' over the last few days. Results at Bexley Business Academy slumped last year, with 5% fewer pupils getting 5 GCSEs than had the year before.

One of Number 10's advisers on education, Sir Peter Lampl, has produced a report suggesting that trust schools risk deepening social divisions and excluding children from poor families. As they undoubtedly will and do.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Satanist Academies

The idea of Faithless Academies is to encourage secular, raional schooling, to use the faith groups' legislation against them. However, another important aim is to draw attention to the problems with Faith and City Academies. Would Satanist Academies be better at this?

Any ideas, as ever, would be gratefully received...

Not that we needed them, but...

Here are yet more reasons for those of us who think of ourselves as socialists to oppose academies. The thrust of this site is about the privatisation of education, with faith and other business organisations having an effect on what children are taught. However, there are other issues, like selection, and that of the treatment of teachers, as highlighted below...

Essentially, a hude ideological experiment with our children is being undertaken with the support of faith groups and businesses. Setting up secular academies may be the only way to fight certain forms of fire, if the government is determined to press ahead.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Not Even the Pope...

Even the Vatican accepts that 'intelligent design' is not science, according to this article from CBS News. Let's get this straight: this is the denomination of the Church responsible for the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition; it is devoted the continued spread of AIDS throughout the developing world; and its head is an ex-member of the Hitler Youth; and yet it is actually making more humane and rational statements than many others?

If nothing else this shows just how insane American fundamentalists have become. When the Catholic Church denounces you as extremist weirdoes, it's probably time to re-examine your belief system...