Barking and Dagenham Council voted yesterday in favour of plans to incorporate a community school into a Voluntary Aided Church of England school – despite both schools coming out against the proposals. The British Humanist Association (BHA) has condemned the decision as an example of a Council riding roughshod over the consultation process.
The staff governors of Village Infants School voted against the proposed merger from the outset, and on Monday, William Ford Church of England (Voluntary Aided) Junior School also voted against. A strong local campaign to the plans gathered over 700 signatures, and the overwhelming majority of responses to the consultation were against. In addition, teachers at Village Infants School had previously announced that they will strike against the plans, and there have been questions about the legality of the consultation process.
Village Infants head teacher Heather Douglas commented, ‘Village Infants has always been careful to make the point that we are not against the Church of England, we are against the principles behind Voluntary Aided schools and the staff are against being forced to change their employer. Village Infants has many Christian teachers as well as atheists and Muslims. They did not choose to work in a “faith” school and feel compromised by being forced to do so.’
However, in spite of this opposition, the Council Cabinet voted to proceed with the merger. BHA Faith Schools Campaigner Richy Thompson commented, ‘This is a clear-cut example of a Council ignoring the wishes of the local community in taking a decision – and as ever, that decision results in more “faith” schools and a more segregated schooling system. We will work with the school to see what we can do to get this decision overturned.’
For further comment or information, please contact Richy Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0781 55 89 636.
View details of the 11 July Cabinet meeting and report on the proposed amalgamation: http://moderngov.barking-dagenham.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=180&MId=6725
View the proposals and consultation document: http://www.lbbd.gov.uk/Education/Documents/WilliamFordVillageAmalgamation.pdf
Read the BHA press release, Teachers at Dagenham community school to strike over planned incorporation into Church school, 4 July 2012: http://www.humanism.org.uk/news/view/1061
Read the Council’s press release on proceeding with the merger: http://www.lbbd.gov.uk/News/PressReleases/Pages/VillageInfantsSchool.aspx
Read more about the BHA’s campaigns work on ‘faith’ schools: http://www.humanism.org.uk/campaigns/religion-and-schools/faith-schools
View the BHA’s table of types of school with a religious character: http://www.humanism.org.uk/_uploads/documents/schools-with-a-religious-character.pdf