Writer and broadcaster, Professor Alice Roberts, has today launched an appeal to pay for the salary and work of the faith schools campaigner dedicated to opposing ‘faith’ schools and the prevalence of religious discrimination in the education system.
The fundraising campaign comes in the wake of the Church of England’s recent announcement to open more than a hundred new schools in the next four years, while the Catholic Church has stated its intention to follow suit. For its part, the Government has proposed removing existing limits on religious discrimination in school admissions and paved the way for a whole new generation of 100% religiously selective state schools.
‘As both a scientist and a university professor, I believe that schools must first and foremost equip children with the ability and freedom to think for themselves, said British Humanist Association Patron Alice Roberts, in her letter of appeal.
‘Their natural curiosity must be encouraged, their desire to explore different perspectives and evaluate different opinions must be satisfied, and the ability to struggle with ideas and to form beliefs that are theirs and theirs alone must be championed above all else,’ said the Professor of Public Engagement in Science at the University of Birmingham. ‘Unfortunately, too many “faith” schools fail to achieve this vision of education.
‘That, to my mind, is why the BHA’s Faith Schools Campaigner is so important.
Please join me in donating today so this work can continue to campaign for the changes our system badly needs.’
Despite the current climate, the successes of the BHA’s Faith Schools and Education Campaigner have included:
- Defeating the Government in the High Court over its exclusion of Humanism from GCSE Religious Studies, establishing in law the right of the non-religious to have their beliefs equally respected and represented in religious education.
- Launching a new whistleblowing and blogging service called Faith Schoolers Anonymous, allowing former pupils of faith schools to report concerns, get advice and support, or share their experiences.
- Successfully lobbying the Government to introduce new proposals to crackdown on supplementary religious schools like Muslim madrassas and Jewish yeshivas, many of which encourage children to adopt a fundamentalist, isolationist, and deeply damaging view of the world, free from any oversight.
- Working with former pupils of illegal, unregistered religious schools to reveal the whereabouts of these schools and expose the plight of children still trapped in them, leading to the closure of a number of illegal settings and the introduction of new measures to allow Ofsted and the Department for Education to prosecute the people who run them.
- Eradicating ‘selection by flower-arranging’ at church from the admissions policies of all state ‘faith’ schools in England through lodging formal objections to the Office of the Schools Adjudicator, ending this ludicrous but deeply damaging practice from our education system once and for all.
- Securing recommendations for comprehensive, age-appropriate Sex and Relationships Education to be made compulsory in all schools, for inclusive school admissions, and for a scrapping of Collective Worship in schools, in a report published by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.
- Welcoming the first year in which evolution was taught in English primary schools as part of the primary national curriculum, a development we secured as part our concerted ‘Teach evolution, not creationism!’ campaign.
‘Anyone that has followed the unprecedented surge of religious influence in the education system in recent weeks and months will know that the need for a dedicated campaigner working to oppose the damaging impact of “faith” schools in the UK is as great as ever,’ said BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson. ‘If our schools are to be inclusive and fair rather than divisive and discriminatory, it is vital that the BHA is able to continue this work.’
For further comment or information, please contact Andrew Copson on 0207 324 3066.
To donate, please visit https://www.justgiving.com/nofaithschools.
All donations will go towards employing the Faith Schools and Education Campaigner for another year and funding his campaigning activities. Any money donated over and above our target will go towards boosting the BHA’s education campaigns.
Read more about the BHA’s campaigns work on schools and education: https://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/schools-and-education/
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.