Opinion Former Article

BHA: Approved 2013 Free Schools include first ‘faith’ special, alternative provision schools

33 new ‘faith’ schools and one new pseudoscientific school have been 'pre-approved' by the Department for Education (DfE) to open from 2013. These schools form part of the 102 schools approved in the so-called ‘third wave’ of Free School proposals. The British Humanist Association (BHA) has expressed regret at the approvals, which include the first ever state-funded special needs and alternative provision ‘faith’ schools.

102 new Free Schools have been approved by the DfE in total. Of the 33 ‘faith’ schools, 20 are formally designated as such, whereas 13 have a ‘faith ethos’. The group also includes the first ever multi-faith/spiritual school, and a school proposed by a creationist group.

The BHA believes the 33 ‘faith’ schools are:

Church of England (8):
Bradford Girls' Grammar School – previously a private school
Cathedral Primary School , Bristol
Fulham Boys School
Sparkwell All Saints Primary School, Devon
St Mary’s CE Primary School, Herefordshire
St Mary’s Hampton Church of England Primary School
St Mary Magdalene Academy Courtyard, Islington – Anglican ethos special school
The St Marylebone Bridge School, Westminster – Anglican ethos special school

Greek Orthodox (1):
St Andrew the Apostle Greek Orthodox School

Christian (12):
Durham Free School
Exemplar – Newark Business Academy – Christian ethos/creationist
Hope Community School, Bexley
King's School, Hove
Oasis Community School Waterloo – Christian ethos
Sevenoaks Christian School
St Anthony's School, Gloucestershire – previously a private school and with ‘strong links with the Catholic Church’
The London Riverside School, Barking and Dagenham – Christian ethos
Tyndale Community School, Oxfordshire
University Cathedral Free School, Cheshire West and Chester – Christian ethos
Wye Free School, Kent – Christian ethos
Southend YMCA Community School – Christian ethos alternative provision school

Sikh (4):
Khalsa Science Academy, Leeds
Khalsa Secondary School, Slough
Nanaksar Primary School, Hillingdon
Nishkam School West London, Hounslow

Jewish (3):
Leeds Jewish Free School
South London Jewish Primary School, Wandsworth
The New Jewish Primary School, Barnet

Muslim (3):
Rainbow Schools, Nottingham – Muslim ethos
The Northern Lights Primary School, Calderdale
The Olive School, Blackburn

Hindu (1):
Anand Primary School, Wolverhampton

Multi-faith/spiritual (1):
Collective Spirit, Oldham – faith ethos

In addition, the pseudoscientific Steiner Academy Exeter has been approved to open.

BHA Faith Schools Campaigner Richy Thompson commented, ‘It is disappointing to see a further diversification of the “faith” schools sector: with not only more evangelical schools and more pseudoscientific schools, but also the first special needs and alternative provision schools.

‘“Faith” schools are discriminatory and divisive, selecting pupils and staff based on religious beliefs and teaching skewed curricula. The BHA believes all schools should be inclusive to everyone, regardless of religion or non-religious beliefs.’

Notes

For further comment or information, please contact Richy Thompson on 0781 55 89 636.

Read the Department for Education press release, Prime Minister: More new Free Schools than ever before to raise standards and increase choice: http://www.education.gov.uk/inthenews/inthenews/a00211691/prime-minister-more-new-free-schools-than-ever-before-to-raise-standards-and-increase-choice

Read more about the BHA’s campaigns work on ‘faith’ schools: http://www.humanism.org.uk/campaigns/religion-and-schools/faith-schools

The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.

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