State schools in England have since the beginning of compulsory education included a minority of schools owned and run by the Church of England, Roman Catholic church and some other religious bodies - see more. Their costs are now almost entirely met from public funds.
The Church of England in 2000
set up an enquiry to look at the future of their schools. It reported
in 2001 recommending substantial expansion, especially in the secondary
sector. Most of these "new" C of E schools would not be new
at all: they would be taken over (without payment) from the "state"
sector - see more.
Since then dozens of new religious schools have opened across the country. Decisions on new schools (and handing over community schools to religions) are handled locally, by School Organisation Committees where the churches have two out of five votes - see more. Proposals are rarely publicised and the time available for consultation has recently been shortened.
Moreover, the Government announced in teh summer of 2005 that the churches would not in future need to contribute even the 10% of building costs when their secondary schools were re-built. Thus the 50% contribution of 1944, reduced to 25% in 1959, to 20% in 1967, to 15% in 1974 and to 10% in 2001, is on the brink of being eliminated entirely. The time has come to ask, if the taxpayer is paying the piper, why are the churches calling the tune?
The Government's reaction to the attacks by Islamist terrorists on London in July 2005 has been to propose to increase hugely the number of Muslim religious schools, mainly by lowering the standards required for private schools to gain admission to the public system. They are apparently oblivious to the fact that some Muslim schools differ hugely from the cosy C of E image they seem to cherish - see for example what one Muslim head of an aided primary school has to say.
Alongside the expansion of religious 'maintained' schools the Government has pursued its policy of financing 90% of the cost of building and 100% of the cost or f running about 200 'academies' across the country. The odd 10% of the building cost was meant to come from business sponsors, but they have been slower to emerge than expected and the gap has been filled by religious organisations - the United Learning Trust (an Anglican charity) and (more alarmingly) extreme evangelicals. The Emmanuel Schools Foundation funded by car dealership millionaire Sir Peter Vardy came first; with academies open in Gateshead and Middlesbrough, a third opening in Doncaster this year, and others under way. Now Bob Edmiston's Christian Vision, fresh from starting a string of evangelical radio stations round the world, is planning an academy in Coventry. Both are advocates of teaching creationism to schoolkids. The Government has so far abandoned enlightenment values in education that it does not care.
Those who oppose the idea of faith-based schooling for our children need to be aware of the facts and arguments and to take action. This website is designed to help.Return to top
Updated 13 August 2005