11 out of 55 ‘second wave’ Free Schools have religious character, Everyday Champions Academy rejected

Update, March 2012: When writing this report, we failed to identify a twelfth ‘faith’ school, Atherton Community School, a Christian secondary school.

The BHA is fundraising to continue its campaign against ‘faith’ schools. Please donate today at http://justgiving.com/nofaithschools

The Department for Education (DfE) today announced the ‘second wave’ of Free Schools approved to open in 2012. The 55 Schools include 11 schools designated with a religious character, lower than the proportion that applied and the proportion of existing schools. In particular, Everyday Champions Church, the group that were explicit in their intent to set up a creationist Free School, has been rejected. The British Humanist Association (BHA) has welcomed the low proportion of Free Schools that have a religious character, but still believes that any new ‘faith’ school represents a further segregation of children by religion or belief.

The 11 ‘faith’ schools include three Anglican schools, a Catholic school, three other Christian schools, a Jewish school, a Sikh school, a Hindu school and a Muslim school. Additionally, Frome Steiner Academy, a second state-funded Steiner school, is due to open. Steiner schools are not formally designated with a religious character, but still have complete control over their own curriculum.

BHA Faith Schools Campaigner Richy Thompson commented, ‘The low proportion of ‘faith’ schools is better than it could have been, but serious concerns must be raised about the diversity of the Free Schools, with some being more evangelical than previously possible. It is of the utmost importance that all state-funded schools are inclusive of their entire local communities, so that all young people can be educated together and grow up knowing those of different religions and beliefs. More work needs to be done to bring down the number of new religious Free Schools to zero.’

One of the schools that progressed to interview stage, but has now been rejected, is Everyday Champions Academy, proposed by Everyday Champions Church. In February, church leader Pastor Gareth Morgan stated that ‘Creationism will be taught as the belief of the leadership of the school. It will not be taught exclusively in the sciences, for example. At the same time, evolution will be taught as a theory.’

Mr Thompson continued, ‘We don’t yet know why the Department for Education rejected Everyday Champions Church’s proposal, but it is reassuring nonetheless that the DfE has kept to its word in not approving this creationist school. This represents a significant victory in the battle to keep creationism out of the state-funded system.’

Notes

The BHA is fundraising to continue its campaign against ‘faith’ schools. Please donate today at http://justgiving.com/nofaithschools

For further comment or information, please contact Richy Thompson on 020 7462 4993.

Read the Department for Education press release, 79 new schools now approved to open from 2012 onwards, and the list of Free Schools opening in 2012 and beyond.

The 11 ‘faith’ schools include An Noor School, an all-through Muslim school; Becket Keys Church School and North Ealing Church of England Academy, Anglican secondary schools; Barrow 1618, an Anglican primary school; Emmanuel Community School and EN3 Primary School, Christian primary schools; Grindon Hall Free School, a Christian secondary school; Golders Green Jewish Primary School; a Sikh school proposed by Nishkam School Trust; St Chaitanya’s School, an all-through Hindu school; and St Michael’s Catholic Secondary School. Tauheedul Islam Boys’ High School will also open in 2012, and was announced as part of the first wave. Additionally, Frome Steiner Academy, a second state-funded Steiner school, is due to open.

Read more about the BHA’s campaigns work on ‘faith’ schools.

The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.