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.