Exclusive Brethren groups are continuing to apply to set up state-funded Free Schools, the TES has learned. Earlier this year the British Humanist Association (BHA) revealed that at least 15 groups applied over the first three years of the Free School programme. At least two more are now applying to open in 2014, with the ultimate hope being that all 39 enter the state sector. The BHA has welcomed the Government rejecting the proposals.
In the TES article, Rod Buckley, information officer of the Focus Learning Trust (which runs the schools), says that the schools should be approved as a simple matter of equality: ‘We currently receive no government funding whatsoever, so it is only equitable that we should receive government funding. It’s only fair while other groups have received funding for their schools.’
BHA Faith Schools Campaigner Richy Thompson commented, ‘We do not think that any religious group should receive state funds to run a school. However, it is worth being clear that the Exclusive Brethren are more extreme and pseudoscientific that existing state “faith” school providers. For example, the schools do not offer Religious Education but only Bible Studies, which could lead to pupils being indoctrinated. They also have very conservative views on homosexuality and women, which are outside the realm of what is acceptable in a state-funded school.’
In the article, Mr Buckley reveals that the reason the groups have had their previous bids rejected is because the Government have not been convinced that the schools can to deliver the curriculum they have said they would. Mr Thompson continued, ‘We hope the Government continues to recognise why Exclusive Brethren groups should not be permitted to run state schools, as it thankfully has done so far.’
For further comment or information, please contact Richy Thompson on 020 7462 4993.
Read today’s TES article, ‘Exclusive Brethren seeks elusive free school status’: http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6303459
Read the BHA news item, ‘Exclusive Brethren groups apply to open Free Schools’, 13 September 2012: https://humanism.org.uk/news/view/1114
Read more about the BHA’s campaigns work on ‘faith’ schools: https://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/religion-and-schools/faith-schools
View the BHA’s table of types of school with a religious character: https://humanism.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/schools-with-a-religious-character.pdf
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.