Author: Alastair Lichten

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Child praying

The requirement to hold collective worship in schools is crumbling and not worth saving

Posted: Thu, 05 Dec 2019 by Alastair Lichten

After two parents forced a school trust to provide an alternative to religious assemblies for their children, Alastair Lichten says the law which requires schools to hold acts of worship needs to change. Read More »

Tags: Collective worship, Education

RE symbols and pupils

This isn’t the time to end the right to withdraw from RE in Wales

Posted: Thu, 14 Nov 2019 by Alastair Lichten

The Welsh government is considering removing the parental right to withdraw from religious education. Alastair Lichten argues that despite potential benefits, reforms don't go far enough to justify ending this longstanding right. Read More »

Tags: Education, Religious education, Wales

School sign

Education in NI shouldn’t be a tug of war between religious interests

Posted: Fri, 25 Oct 2019 by Alastair Lichten

A report has called into question religious control over the curriculum and ethos of Northern Irish schools. Alastair Lichten says it should prompt a re-evaluation of the segregated, inefficient system which exists now. Read More »

Tags: Education, Northern Ireland

Department for Education

Anti-RSE campaigns: guidance is welcome, but schools need more support

Posted: Tue, 15 Oct 2019 by Alastair Lichten

The government has published new guidance for schools facing disruption from religious groups who oppose LGBT-inclusive education. Alastair Lichten welcomes the gesture but says the substance doesn't go far enough. Read More »

Tags: Education, RSE

Child praying

The government must respond to pressure to end compulsory school worship

Posted: Mon, 05 Aug 2019 by Alastair Lichten

As opposition to compulsory worship gathers and its defenders grow increasingly out of touch, Alastair Lichten says ministers should reconsider the law and its implementation. Read More »

Tags: Collective worship, Education, statistics

Classroom

The new education secretary must resist the reactionary campaign against RSE

Posted: Thu, 25 Jul 2019 by Alastair Lichten

The campaign against inclusive relationships and sex education risks spreading from the school gates to sympathetic faith school authorities. Alastair Lichten argues the government must act now to save the subject. Read More »

Tags: Education, LGBTQ rights, RSE

Classroom

New guidance on independent schools: analysis of hard-line opposition and DfE concessions

Posted: Fri, 03 May 2019 by Alastair Lichten

The government has published new guidance on independent schools, amid systemic failings by independent faith schools. Alastair Lichten looks at what's changed and how the DfE has handled religious groups' demands. Read More »

Tags: Education, Independent schools

Faith schools protest

Integrated communities require inclusive, secular schools

Posted: Tue, 12 Feb 2019 by Alastair Lichten

A government plan on integration sets out a positive vision on education - but faith schools remain the elephant in the room. Alastair Lichten asks if ministers' actions will match their rhetoric. Read More »

Tags: Education, Faith Schools, Independent schools, admissions, unregistered schools

Hand holding

Weaponised unreasonableness: father claims school standards violate his rights

Posted: Mon, 07 Jan 2019 by Alastair Lichten

After a father threatens the government with legal action over a requirement to teach about LGBT people in independent schools, Alastair Lichten argues the focus should remain on protecting pupils' rights. Read More »

Tags: Education, Independent schools, LGBTQ rights

Unravelling the choice delusion

Unravelling the choice delusion

Posted: Mon, 10 Dec 2018 by Alastair Lichten

We often hear that faith schools improve choice. But an NSS report shows that this narrative mischaracterises the challenges facing families and public education's role in a diverse society, says Alastair Lichten. Read More »

Tags: Education, Faith Schools, admissions

We must resist both religious hatred and its weaponisation

We must resist both religious hatred and its weaponisation

Posted: Thu, 18 Oct 2018 by Alastair Lichten

After a sharp rise in reported crimes in which religious hatred was a factor, Alastair Lichten says liberal democracies should challenge hatred and bigotry while resisting attempts to silence ideas.

According to new figures from the Home Office there were 94,098... Read More »

Tags: Anti-Muslim bigotry, Anti-Semitism, Ex-Muslim, Freedom of Expression, Hate crime

Church schools are faith schools. Pretending otherwise is dishonest

Church schools are faith schools. Pretending otherwise is dishonest

Posted: Fri, 20 Jul 2018 by Alastair Lichten

The Church of England's pretence that 'its' schools aren't faith schools is a dishonest attempt to avoid association with the unpopularity of faith-based schooling, and at odds with their actual policy, argues Alastair Lichten.

When the term 'faith school'... Read More »

Tags: Church of England, Education, Faith Schools

Religion and politics – the discrepancy at the heart of our schools

Religion and politics – the discrepancy at the heart of our schools

Posted: Tue, 12 Jun 2018 by Alastair Lichten

Schools are forbidden from promoting, showing favouritism to or discriminating on the grounds of partisan politics. Alastair Lichten asks why partisan religious beliefs are treated so differently.

Sections 406 and 407 of the Education Act 1996 (applying to... Read More »

Tags: Education, Faith Schools, Politics

New guidance on the right to withdraw from RE in Wales – response

New guidance on the right to withdraw from RE in Wales – response

Posted: Wed, 06 Jun 2018 by Alastair Lichten

New guidance on managing parents' right to withdraw their children from religious education in Wales is largely common sense, says Alastair Lichten. But it downplays the confessional nature of some RE teaching.

The right to withdraw from RE is a difficult area... Read More »

Tags: Religious education, Wales

Faith schools: why reducing the harm isn’t enough

Faith schools: why reducing the harm isn’t enough

Posted: Mon, 23 Apr 2018 by Alastair Lichten

We can mitigate the harm caused by faith schools in plenty of ways. But after the launch of the No More Faith Schools campaign, Alastair Lichten says the long-term battle is over the fact faith groups run schools at all.

I spent a lot of Friday reading though... Read More »

Tags: Admissions, Education, Faith Schools

We can’t build a shared society around segregated schools

We can’t build a shared society around segregated schools

Posted: Thu, 15 Mar 2018 by Alastair Lichten

Our education and schools officer examines the education proposals in the Government's new integration strategy, arguing they should lead to a wider discussion of children's rights and facing up to the religious segregation rife in education.

When we talk about... Read More »

Tags: Community Cohesion, Education, Faith Schools, Home schooling, unregistered schools

Home schooling debate must prompt wider discussion of children’s rights

Home schooling debate must prompt wider discussion of children’s rights

Posted: Thu, 30 Nov 2017 by Alastair Lichten

As supporters of a new Bill aim to see home schooling in England registered for the first time, education and schools campaigner Alastair Lichten says children's independent rights must receive greater focus.

NSS honorary associate Lord Soley aims to register... Read More »

Tags: Education, Home schooling, Unregistered schools

Big ideas for religious education?

Big ideas for religious education?

Posted: Thu, 23 Nov 2017 by Alastair Lichten

The latest report into the problems with religious education reiterates the need to start with a fundamental examination of the subject's purpose. But, Alastair Lichten wonders, do the proposals go far enough?

The Commission on RE is currently consulting on... Read More »

Tags: Education, Religious education

The 'war on Christmas' is coming

The 'war on Christmas' is coming

Posted: Fri, 10 Nov 2017 by Alastair Lichten

The myth of a culture war on Christmas may be comical and its claims endlessly debunked, but its promotion is part of a campaign for Christian supremacy, argues Alastair Lichten.

It's coming… the 'WAR ON CHRISTMAS!!!' You've been warned: the seasonal... Read More »

Tags: 'Christianophobia', 'Militant' Secularism, Christianity, Christmas

Secularism and National Libraries Week #LibraryLetters

Secularism and National Libraries Week #LibraryLetters

Posted: Thu, 05 Oct 2017 by Alastair Lichten

Ahead of Libraries Week 2017 Alastair Lichten argues that libraries' values of free expression and pluralism illustrate how a vibrant secular democracy should work.

Our public services – the majority of which are thankfully free from religious discrimination... Read More »

Tags: Libraries, Secularism

Casework focus: community schools and religious takeovers

Casework focus: community schools and religious takeovers

Posted: Thu, 11 May 2017 by Alastair Lichten

Parents and staff regularly contact the NSS over concerns related to religious influence in their schools. Campaigns officer Alastair Lichten looks at a typical example of the casework we receive and what lessons can be learned.

A small rural primary school... Read More »

Tags: Academisation, Casework focus, Education

The human rights of women and secularism go hand in hand

The human rights of women and secularism go hand in hand

Posted: Wed, 08 Mar 2017 by Alastair Lichten

On International Women's Day 2017 NSS campaigns officer Alastair Lichten reflects on the intersection of gender and religious privilege, and what the secularist movement can learn from IWD.

The theocratic mindset has always had a particular obsession with policing... Read More »

Tags: Equality & Human Rights, Gender Equality, Secularism

President Trump: American theocrat

President Trump: American theocrat

Posted: Tue, 31 Jan 2017 by Alastair Lichten

Donald Trump may be America's latest 'atheist president', but his presidency has put Christian Nationalism at the heart of its policy agenda.

Modern theocracy whether of the Islamist, Christian Dominionist or Hindu Nationalist variety is about belief, but it... Read More »

Tags: Religious right, USA

Advice for parents wanting to give the evangelical Operation Christmas Child shoebox scheme a wide berth

Advice for parents wanting to give the evangelical Operation Christmas Child shoebox scheme a wide berth

Posted: Wed, 12 Oct 2016 by Alastair Lichten

Alastair Lichten looks at the ethical, educational and efficiency case against the Samaritan's Purse Operation Christmas Child shoebox scheme.

It gets earlier every year. Despite the unseasonable sunshine this September we've already started to receive the... Read More »

Tags: Casework focus, Charity, Christmas, Samaritans Purse

Book review: 'Christian Nation' by Frederic C. Rich

Book review: 'Christian Nation' by Frederic C. Rich

Posted: Thu, 21 Jul 2016 by Alastair Lichten

Alastair Lichten explores the themes of identity, resilience and redemption in Frederic C. Rich's counterfactual dystopian novel and its defence of secular democracy.

Rich's debut novel depicts America's evolution into a theocratic state following the political... Read More »

Tags: Church & State, Reviews, USA

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