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National Secular Society

March 2019 update

  

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February was a bit of a quiet month in terms of NMFS news. However, it certainly wasn't quiet in terms of other education issues, and we're soon to enter an important and challenging period.

The deadline for applications to the Government's new funding scheme for 100% selective (voluntary aided) faith schools has now passed. We'll soon know which projects the Government suggests funding. We'll be working to ensure all of these proposals face robust local challenges. This will be a significant piece of work and we'll need your support.

This is also a key time of year if you want to make a complaint to the Office of Schools Adjudicator (OSA) about a faith school's discriminatory policies (these don't need to be restricted to admissions), breaking the School Admissions Code. Find out more.

Last week was secondary school offer day and an opportunity to raise the issue of those families with no choice but a faith school, or locked out of their local schools by religious discrimination. If you haven't already, please read and share with your MP our ground-breaking report The choice delusion: how faith schools restrict primary school choice in England.

My main opinion piece this month addresses some of the questions this campaign gets about independent faith schools.

WHY FOCUS ON STATE-FUNDED FAITH SCHOOLS?

The coming months will be very important for the No More Faith School campaign. We are grateful for everyone who's written to their MP, signed the petition and shared their story. If everyone reading this can take just one or two more actions for the campaign, we can really increase our impact. It's not enough to be right, only activism can create change.

In other news:

Today (Wednesday 6 March) I'll be giving a talk about secular education and #NoMoreFaithSchools at Brighton Humanists. If you're in the area, please come and say hello.

If you'd like a speaker or resources for a #NoMoreFaithSchools meeting of your own, please get in touch.

On Wednesday 20th of March I will be visiting Belfast to learn more about the challenges facing their sectarian school system and efforts to integrate it. I'm hoping to arrange some sort of social or meetup with supporters while I'm over. If you're interested, please let me know.

Best wishes,

Alastair Lichten
Education and schools officer – NSS
Campaigner - NMFS

  

Latest updates

 

Why focus on state-funded faith schools?

The No More Faith Schools campaign's focus is on challenging the religious designation of state-funded schools. Alastair Lichten explains why.

 

Education secretary to faith school critics: “This is a Christian country”

The education secretary has defended his commitment to providing new faith schools which can discriminate on religious grounds in all their admissions.

 

New podcast series from the NSS

The National Secular Society (who coordinate the No More Faith Schools campaign.) have launched a new series of podcasts in the run up to their May 18th conference (Secularism 2019: Reclaiming Religious Freedom). The first four episodes are available now and feature Alastair Lichten speaking with a variety of experts and activists about freedom of and from religion. Please tune in.

  

What you can do to get involved:

  

1. Follow us on social media. Please take a few moments to follow the campaign on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. If you can share a message of support using the hashtag #NoMoreFaithSchools it helps us get the message out and helps others find the campaign. Please use #NoMoreFaithSchools whenever sharing on of our stories, a link to the petition or our main video.

2. Keep us informed. It's always helpful to know how the issues were working on affect real families. We follow new faith school proposals and developments extremely closely, but we can't catch everything. If you can report a new faith school proposal as early as possible, we can do more to help.

3. Share your story. Statistics and theoretical arguments may win some people over, but sharing stories help many more empathise with those affected by faith schools and perhaps rethink their support.

4. Get creative. Please send us a video or photo of you supporting the campaign and let us know why you're saying: "No More Faith Schools!"

5. Get talking. Why not have a chat your friends and family, do they support secular inclusive schools, and they absorb some of the pro faith school myths? Sometimes having a genuine friendly conversation can have a big impact.

6. Get writing. If you haven't already please write to your MP, and if you have please consider a follow-up letter. It's worth writing to your MP even if you live in a UK nation where education is devolved. MPs take up casework and policy issues which go beyond their Westminster role. You can also write to your local representatives asking what they're doing support inclusive education, and while you've got your metaphorical pen out why not send a letter to your local newspaper?

7. Get together. If you're a member of a club or society, why not hold an event discussing faith schools and the need for secular inclusive education system? We can provide advice and resources, and potentially a speaker.

8. Support us financially. NMFS is coordinated by the National Secular Society, which works for the separation of religion and state and equal respect for everyone's human rights. Running a leading campaign of this scale takes resources and there's still so much more we can do. If you're able to, please consider supporting the NSS from just £1 a month, or joining from £2 a month. One off donations are also gratefully received.

  
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