CofE school stops using divisive Christian group in assemblies after parental complaints

October 27, 2017

St John’s Church of England Primary School in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, is to no longer invite a Christian education group into Religious Education lessons and assemblies following complaints from parents about the content of the group’s teachings. The Guardian reports that complaints about the group, CrossTeach, included it teaching pupils about the destructive power of God by smashing a model boat and that ‘men can’t marry men’. A parent told a local paper Kent Live that pupils were informed if they did not believe in God ‘they would not go to a good place when they died’.

CrossTeach has refuted the accusations, claiming on its website that it had fallen victim to ‘… a deliberate and targeted campaign organised by a small group of parents over a number of months bringing pressure to bear on the headteacher’. In a letter to parents the head teacher, Mr Dan Turvey, explained CrossTeach would not be invited to lessons and assemblies in future, but would still run after school events. He wrote ‘I have taken this action as I hope to bring an end this campaign and allow us to move on. However I am deeply saddened by this, as are many of our school staff. I do not believe CrossTeach has done anything wrong.’

Chair of the Accord Coalition, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, said ‘State funded schools should provide assemblies that further the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils and staff in ways that are inclusive and accessible. They should not be a divisive imposition.

‘The law currently allows state funded school in England and Wales – including community schools – to provide instructional religious assemblies that many families will find exclusory. Accord is regularly contacted by families who find school assemblies inappropriate. This case further highlights the unsatisfactory legal and regulatory arrangements around assemblies, and their pressing need for reform.’

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