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Professor Alice Roberts leads fundraising campaign to oppose state faith schools in 2018

Scientist, writer, and broadcaster Professor Alice Roberts has today launched an appeal to fundraise the salary and campaign activities of the only campaigner in the UK dedicated to opposing state-funded faith schools and the prevalence of undue religious privilege and discrimination in the education system.

The fundraising campaign comes in the face of unprecedented efforts on the part of both religious organisations and the Government to increase the influence of religion over children’s education in the UK.

Government plans to remove existing limits on religious discrimination in school admissions still look set to establish a new generation of fully segregated, taxpayer-funded religious schools in England. And in flagrant disregard for the rights of children, faith schools have been handed an opt out to providing accurate, evidence-based, and LGBT-inclusive information as part of relationships and sex education.

Writing in her letter of appeal, Humanists UK patron Alice Roberts said ‘If, like me, you think that children deserve better than to be indoctrinated into beliefs they are too young to confidently hold for themselves, and that education policy should be dictated by the better interests of children not the vested interests of the religious lobby, then please donate generously today so the humanist voice can continue to be heard.’

Despite all the challenges, the successes of the Humanists UK Faith Schools Campaigner have this year included:

  • Forcing the Government to amend the misleading statistics it used to justify proposals for an end to limits on religious selection by free schools, by complaining to the UK Statistics Authority.
  • Working with members of the London Assembly to pass a motion condemning the Government’s proposals to increase the extent to which faith schools in England are allowed to religiously discriminate in their admission arrangements. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan publicly criticised the proposals in response to the motion.
  • Leading the campaign against illegal, unregistered religious schools, including by holding the first ever meeting between Ofsted’s Chief Inspector and former pupils of such schools, finally bringing an end to the plight of these children being ignored by key decision-makers across government.
  • Challenging the exclusion of humanists from the local bodies responsible for setting religious education syllabuses, and, as part of a test case, forcing one local authority to accept the error of its decision to deny humanist membership.
  • Publishing a guide for non-religious parents and young people in England and Wales, providing valuable advice and support on how to navigate an education system increasingly subject to undue religious influence.
  • Producing the research report Healthy, Happy, Safe which revealed that RSE in English schools is being ‘fatally neglected’ by school inspectors. The report discredited the Government’s claim that making RSE compulsory was unnecessary given Ofsted already picks up on inadequate teaching, leading to the subject being made compulsory.

Humanists UK Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented, ‘Schools should be places where children from a range of different backgrounds learn with and from one another, benefiting from that diversity and recognising what they share. Unfortunately, our education system has long seen fit to divide children rather than bring them together, and our Government has inexplicably proposed to entrench that division rather than roll it back. We see the consequences of this division increasingly and every day.

‘If this is to change, as it must, the work of Humanists UK is as vital as it has ever been.’

Notes

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 Humanists UK’s education campaigns.

Read more about Humanists UK’s campaigns work on schools and education: https://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/schools-and-education/

At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.

Humanists UK recently changed its name from the British Humanist Association: https://humanism.org.uk/2017/05/22/bha-becomes-humanists-uk/

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