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Expansion of Academies Programme Continues Apace Despite Lack of Safeguards

An increasing number of schools in England are becoming Academies, despite criticism that Academies can entrench discrimination in admissions and employment, and remove safeguards over the content of curricula in state-funded schools. 

The Department of Education has announced that 1 in 6 secondary schools in England have now converted to Academy status (547), a large jump from January this year when the BHA reported that 1 in 10 English secondary schools were now Academies.This week, a report in the Economist magazine predicted that this could be as many as 1 in 4 schools within the year.

Figures updated yesterday on the Department for Education website show that in addition to this, a further 473 schools have applied to become Academies and are waiting to ‘convert’.

Academies are able to opt out of the National Curriculum potentially leaving students attending some ‘faith’ Academies at risk of being taught that there is scientific validity to creationist myths in science lessons and of not being provided with basic sex and relationships education. ‘Faith’ Academies with a religious character are able to discriminate against students from families that are of the ‘wrong’ or no religion in at least 50% of their places.

Faith Schools Campaigns Officer Jenny Pennington commented: ‘Despite the Government’s pledge to ensure ‘fair’ admissions to Academies and their absolute rejection that creationism has any scientific basis, they have taken limited action so far to ensure that necessary minimum safeguards are in place to prevent discrimination and the teaching of pseudo-scientific beliefs in Academy schools

‘We will continue to raise awareness of the threats to all children receiving a high standard of education that are inherent in this programme, scrutinise new ‘faith’ Academies as they open and work with Government to ensure that these widely held concerns are addressed’.

Notes

For further information or comment, please contact Jenny Pennington on 020 7462 4993 or jenny@humanism.or.uk

The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of ethically concerned, non-religious people in the UK. It is the largest organisation in the UK campaigning for an end to religious privilege and to discrimination based on religion or belief, and for a secular state.

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