Seven of the ten ‘Free School’ proposals most recently approved by the Department for Education have religious or ‘spiritual’ connections. Among the approved applications are a school which teaches ‘consciousness-based education’ including ‘transcendental meditation’, an Islamic boys’ school, and a school run by a group set up by an ‘Ordained Minister of the Free Church’. The list of Free School proposals have now moved on to the ‘business case and plan stage’.
The British Humanist Association (BHA) has said that its fears that the government’s Academies and Free Schools programme will be a vehicle for an expansion in ‘faith’ schools have been confirmed.
BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented, ‘We predicted that a high proportion of applications to run free schools would come from faith groups and the list of approved applications confirms our fears. The free schools programme will be particularly attractive not only to mainstream religious groups but also to minority groups, given that they are largely unregulated and there is nothing to stop groups with even extreme agendas from applying to run these state-funded schools.
‘Increasing the numbers of schools with a religious or minority belief ethos can only increase divisions in society and create tension along religious and ethnic lines.’
For further comment or information, contact Andrew Copson firstname.lastname@example.org on 07534 258596.
The British Humanist Association (BHA) is the national charity representing and supporting the non-religious and campaigning for an end to religious privilege and discrimination. It is the largest organisation in the UK campaigning for a secular state.