Expansion of Academies programme risks increase in discrimination and backdoor proselytising in schools

January 6, 2011

The Accord Coalition has issued a stark warning about the lack of regulation of Academy schools following the Department for Education’s announcement today that Academy schools now comprise over one in ten of all state funded secondary schools in England, with hundreds more in the pipeline at both primary and secondary levels.

Chair of the Accord Coalition, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, said ‘in the Government’s eagerness to give schools greater operational freedom by granting them Academy status they are also freeing them from regulations that help ensure the education they provide is properly balanced, broad and does not promote extreme views.

‘For example new Academy schools can opt out of the National Curriculum and choose not to provide even the most basic sex education in biology, or to teach creationism in science.

‘All new Academy schools with a religious character also assume the same legal status as independent schools with a religious character. This means that they will be exempt from several aspects of equality legislation and therefore be able to discriminate against children in pupil admissions and against applicants and teachers in employment on the grounds of religion. These schools will also be able to provide narrow and instructional Religious Education that only focuses on the school’s religion, rather than provide Religious Education that teaches about the range of beliefs in society.

‘Furthermore, the Government has said that schools rated as “outstanding” will never have to face automatic Ofsted inspections and will have any application to become am Academy school fast tracked. Taken together these two measures are particularly worrying. It follows that as the Government gives schools greater freedom that they should ensure greater rather than less monitoring to ensure that those new freedoms are not abused.

‘The Government needs to amend legalisation in its forthcoming education Bill to close these loopholes and urgently provide an assurance that the creation of new Academies will not allow more discrimination on the basis of religion in our schools, and that the education they provide, including the Religious Education, is truly broad and balanced.’

One Response to Expansion of Academies programme risks increase in discrimination and backdoor proselytising in schools

  1. […] about the risks of state schools being insular on religious lines. Since 2010 it has also made a long series of warnings about the risks of giving schools greater […]

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