The BHA has pledged to continue its campaign against the expansion of “faith Academies” following the granting of royal assent to the Academies Act yesterday.
Throughout the passage of the Bill the BHA worked closely with parliamentarians, particularly members of the All-Party Parliamentary Humanist Group. The Group’s secretary Lady Massey tabled a number of amendments in the Lords, as did its vice chair Dr Julian Huppert MP in the Commons. These covered issues such as discrimination in admissions policies and the risk of extreme religious views being included in the new Academies’ curricula. Other MPs, including David Ward, Caroline Lucas and committed Catholic Tom Blenkinsop, also spoke out against ‘faith schools’ following extensive briefing by the BHA.
BHA head of public affairs Naomi Phillips commented:
‘The BHA has continually warned that the Academies Act will increase the power of religious groups in the English schools system but the government has largely ignored our concerns. We are dismayed that the Academies Act has passed into law with the bare minimum of parliamentary scrutiny, but there is still much we can do to fight the expansion of “faith Academies”.’
‘The Act contains the loosest of frameworks for how the new religious Academies will operate so we will seek to influence accompanying guidance to minimise their negative impact. We will scrutinise the curricula of new “faith Academies” and raise awareness if it appears religious dogma, such as creationism, is threatening pupils’ rights to a balanced education. We will also support local campaigns against new religious Academies as they are proposed.’
For further comment or information, contact Naomi Phillips at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 020 7079 3585.