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New Church of England report seeks expansion and evangelisation of state-funded schools

A new report by the Church of England is set to call for an increase in the specifically religious character of its state-funded schools, as well as the setting up of 200 more state-funded Church schools. It follows a call by the Church of England Bishop responsible for education for church schools to be used to combat ‘aggressive secularism’. The British Humanist Association (BHA) has labelled the report insular and tainted by self-interest. The BHA also says the contents of the report undermine the Church’s claim that its schools are genuinely open to all.

Proposals found in The Church School of the Future Review, also known as the Chadwick Report – which is published today – include:

  • ‘Distinctiveness is about more than organisational arrangements and designation as a school of religious character. It must include a wholehearted commitment to putting faith and spiritual development at the heart of the curriculum and ensuring that a Christian ethos permeates the whole educational experience.’
  • ‘High-quality religious education (RE) and collective worship should continue to make major contributions to the Church school’s Christian ethos, to allow pupils to engage seriously with and develop an understanding of the person and teachings of Jesus Christ.’
  • ‘The enabling of every child to flourish in their potential as a child of God, is a sign and expression of the Kingdom and is at the heart of the Church’s distinctive mission.’
  • Page 9 outlines ‘key premises that apply equally to children of the faith, of other faiths and of no faith’, including, first and foremost, ‘Work towards every child and young person having a life-enhancing encounter with the Christian faith and the person of Jesus Christ’
  • Page 14 comes under the header, ‘Secularist attack‘: ‘Church schools continue to be popular with parents and to have good reputations and high standards. Nevertheless, there continues to be a concerted attack on the core elements of the Church school identity. Most of the challenges and claims made are without foundation or are matters of principle on which disagreement is always possible.

BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented: ‘This report will cause concern to all who favour inclusive education in this country. The Church claims its state-funded schools are for everyone but then totally undermines that claim by expressing its ideological motivations. Particularly outrageous is the idea that a special interest group like the Church of England should be proposing to use public money to “confront secularism”. State-funded schools should not be used as political and religious tools in this way.

‘What we need in a diverse and increasingly non-religious society is not Church schools, but schools that will be genuinely inclusive of all: open to all children, not restricted in admissions as many state funded church schools are; open to all qualified teachers, not jealously guarding their legal right to discriminate; teaching a broad and balanced curriculum, not a narrow curriculum coloured by a single unshared religion.’

Notes

For further comment or information contact BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson on 07534 248596 or at andrew@humanism.org.uk.

Read The Church Schools of the Future Reviewhttp://www.churchofengland.org/media/1418393/the%20church%20school%20of%20the%20future%20review%20-%20march%202012[1].pdf

Read the Sunday Times interview, Church to fight back with 200 new schools, 18 March 2012: http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/uk_news/Education/article996621.ece

Read John Pritchard’s Sunday Times article, Here’s to another 200 years of top-class education, 18 March 2012: http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/uk_news/Education/article996749.ece

Read more about the BHA’s work on ‘faith’ schools: https://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/religion-and-schools/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.

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