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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege

Christian-Muslim academy project hits the buffers

Plans for a joint Christian-Muslim academy in Oldham have been dropped by the local authority, because it says there are enough “faith school” places in the town. The real reason is that the religious bodies couldn’t agree on the proportions of places that should be available for each of their followers. The academy will now be sponsored by someone other than the Church and will be designated a “community academy”.

Meanwhile, the Government has announced plans for ten more academies, and says it will accelerate its programme, opening an average of five new academies a year.

This is music to the ears of religious proselytisers, who see many new opportunities to take over these schools and impose their own “ethos” of an over-emphasis on religion. Fundamentalist Christian car dealer Sir Peter Vardy is now taking over the Bede Academy in Blyth, Northumberland, which will have places for 1,780 4-to-18 year olds. Vardy is also bidding for more schools in Doncaster. He is already operating one there, but was rebuffed by parents when he tried to take over local schools in nearby Conisborough in 2004.

The Education minister Ed Balls has said that “while academies were free to innovate, new academies will build on the platform of the core National Curriculum which they will now follow in English, maths, science and ICT.” This will make it more difficult for those seeking to promote creationism through academies to do so.

Heartsease High School, Norwich, will become an Academy for 11-to-19 year olds, specialising in environmental science. It will be sponsored by the Bishop of Norwich and another fundamentalist Christian used care salesman, Graham Dacre, in partnership with the local further education college – City College Norwich. The Government says “the sponsors have made clear that the new Academy will not be a faith school, and will serve the whole community.” Then why so much religious involvement in the sponsorship?

The Government maintains that no new academies will be created without the approval of the local community. But there is further evidence here, from Halifax, that consultation on the creation of academies is little more than a show.
We're being bullied over academies
Academy looks like a done deal

Objections by parents are simply ignored or over-ruled. So what is the point of these so-called consultations?

7 March 2008


Published Fri, 07 Mar 2008