Petition: Amendment 70 to the Children, Schools & Families Bill be removed.

We the undersigned ask that Amendment 70 to the Children, Schools and Families Bill be removed.

This Amendment was passed by the last Labour Government and allows Religious Schools an exception from Equality Legislation. To quote directly from the Amendment itself:

‘(7A) Subsections (4) to (7) are not to be read as preventing the governing body or head teacher of a school within subsection (7B) from causing or allowing PSHE to be taught in a way that reflects the school's religious character.

This Amendment allows a School whos religious ethos is anti-equality to be not only excepted from Equality legislation but actually to engage in institutionalised Hate Speech.

As the Coalition has chosen to act on the issue of Homophobic bullying in school we feel that this amendment needs to be removed as it allows institutions to engage in what could be defined as bullying.

Please click on this link to sign the petition


British Humanist Association

Tuesday 5 July 2011

Another 'faith' Free School gets the green light

Updated statistics from the Department for Education released on 5 July 2011 reveal that a ninth proposed Free School, another ‘faith' school, has now signed a funding agreement with the Department, clearing it for opening in September. Krishna-Avanti Primary School, a Hindu school in Leicester, brings the number of ‘faith' Free Schools up to four out of the nine.

The number of schools converting to Academies last month has also been announced. 97 schools converted, taking the total number to do so to 527.

British Humanist Association Campaigns Officer Richy Thompson commented, ‘We have long warned that Free Schools and Academies are more attractive to faith groups than other types of state-maintained schools, as they give these groups greater freedom over the curriculum and over religious discrimination in admissions and employment. We are now seeing our concerns realised, as each newly announced ‘faith' school continues their proliferation of the state system.

‘We've been meeting with senior officials at the Department for Education to raise our concerns, and have been working to amend the Education Bill to remove the presumption it introduces that all new schools will be Free Schools or Academies.' 


Monday 4 July

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Campaigning to improve our schools

The current passage of the Education Bill through the House of Lords has presented the BHA with an opportunity to have our issues debated from all angles. The Bill has now reached the Committee Stage and we've been working with humanist peers to table many amendments that would, if passed, mark significant gains in our efforts to end religious discrimination in schools.

As it stands, all state-funded schools must provide a daily act of collective worship. Even when the school is not a ‘faith' school, this worship will typically be required to be ‘broadly Christian' in character. Earlier this year hundreds of you took action and used our special campaign email facility to tell your MPs why compulsory school worship should be abolished. Following on from this, Parliamentary Humanist Group Secretary Baroness Massey of Darwen has tabled an amendment to scrap the exclusive, divisive and unpopular worship and replace it with truly inclusive assemblies.

Another area of ongoing concern for the BHA is Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) Education, including Sex and Relationships Education (SRE). Currently PSHE isn't delivered through the national curriculum, but instead there are guidelines recommending how the subject is taught. The quality of SRE teaching varies enormously – many ‘faith' schools choose not to educate pupils about contraceptives and abortion, or tackle the unfortunately widespread issue of homophobic bullying. We're very pleased that there's an amendment to make PSHE a statutory entitlement to children in all state-funded schools – with no opt out for ‘faith' schools.

Baroness Massey and BHA Distinguished Supporter Lord Avebury have also set out to end religious discrimination in school admissions practices. Most ‘faith' schools are Voluntary Aided schools, Foundation schools or Academies, which can select pupils along religious lines. This leads to covert socio-economic selection and harms community cohesion. It also gives many non-religious parents much less choice than others as to where they send their children.

About 40% of state-maintained ‘faith' schools are Voluntary Controlled or Foundation schools, which can only use a religious test in appointing, promoting and remunerating up to a fifth of their teachers. However many of these schools are now converting to Academies, and a new power introduced by this Bill will let the Secretary of State remove the limit for this type of school. We see no justification for this form of discrimination, and so we have an amendment that will take this power away again.

We see this Bill as an opportunity to try to make things fairer for non-religious parents and their children, and to improve the education that is provided in state-funded schools. Over the coming weeks we will be working with Parliamentarians and other groups to get as wide support for these amendments as possible, and to ensure that our concerns are heard

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News from the BHA

Church of England publishes watered-down guidelines on school admissions

New guidelines from the Church of England on school admissions contain no recommendations or commitments aimed to reduce religious discrimination in admissions of its state-maintained ‘faith' schools, despite earlier suggestions that it would do so.

Instead, the guidelines simply contain vague advice that ‘Church of England schools should be able to show how their Admissions Policy and practice demonstrates the school's commitment both to distinctiveness and inclusivity, to church families and the wider community.'

Revd Pritchard stated, ‘We are not prescribing percentages (there will always be a range of opinions on these) or specific admissions criteria, but offering a framework.'

Read the full article here
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Education Bill is opportunity to end religious discrimination in schools

The Education Bill presents an opportunity to end much of the religious discrimination taking place in state-funded schools. During the last week of June 2011, members of the All Party Parliamentary Humanist Group introduced amendments ahead of the Committee Stage of the Bill in the House of Lords.

Amendments include:

  • Repealing compulsory collective worship;
  • Prevent state-funded ‘faith' schools from religiously discriminating in admissions;
  • Introducing an entitlement of all pupils to statutory Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) Education, including Sex and Relationships Education (SRE).

The full article can be found here


Please click on this link to find the original article