Warning sounded over new Free Schools

September 2, 2011

Michael Gove’s flagship educational venture of Free Schools opening next week, the Accord Coalition – which campaigns for inclusive education – both congratulates the Government on making education one of its top priorities but also urges it to be vigilant against the potential dangers inherent in Free Schools.

‘By taking education out of local authority control and handing it over to new providers, many of whom are untried and have vested interests, the Government could be damaging the very children it seeks to help’, said Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, the Accord Coalition chair.

‘A key element of Free Schools – and also of Academies – is that they control their own curriculum, and while this could be very enriching, it creates a platform that allows providers with a religious agenda to indoctrinate children in one particular faith, and to limit their knowledge in subjects such as science and human biology’.

‘It is therefore vital that the Government insists on rigorous powers of inspection of Free Schools and Academies lest their freedoms are misused – although it is worrying that the Government has chosen this precise moment to cut back Ofsted’s remit to inspect on community cohesion, while oversight of religious studies are sub-contracted to
faith groups themselves’.

‘The greater the freedoms that Free Schools and Academies are given, the more they must be monitored, so that those freedoms are used responsibly and not hijacked by those with extreme views. The ultimate goal must be for children to receive an education that is broad, tolerant and transparent’

In order to encourage these goals, the Accord Coalition is holding a special award – the Accord Inclusivity Award – for schools that display the best example of tolerance and transparency. It is open to all schools and submissions have to be made by Monday November 28th. For further details, see http://accordcoalition.org.uk/accord-award-2012/.



The Accord Coalition was launched in September 2008 to bring together religious and non-religious organisations campaigning for an end to religious discrimination in school staffing and admissions. The coalition also campaigns for a fair and balanced RE curriculum, for pupils to receive Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education, the removal of the requirement for compulsory collective worship, but does not take a position for or against faith schools in principle. Its growing list of members and supporters include the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, the British Humanist Association, the Christian think tank Ekklesia, the British Muslims for Secular Democracy, the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches and members from all four of the largest groupings in parliament.

For further comment, contact Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain on 07770 722 893.

For further information, contact Paul Pettinger on 020 7462 4990.

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