Private school which joined state sector as free school told to sort out its finances

Janet Downs's picture
Grindon Hall Christian School, a former private school which taught creationism as science, has been issued with a Financial Notice to Improve by the Education Funding Agency (EFA).

The all-through school, described on Wikipedia as an ‘independent Non Paying Fee School’, failed to balance its budget and required financial support from the EFA.

The EFA said the school’s ‘financial health’ had gone downhill since becoming a free school and its delegated financial responsibilities will be revoked. Transactions of the Trust which runs the school must go to the EFA for approval.

The size of the school doubled when it joined the state sector and money was provided for new accommodation. Grindon Hall’s annual report for year ending 31 August 2013* admitted external auditors had found ‘weaknesses’ in control of spending.

Auditing revealed £38,371 of the school’s general annual grant (GAG) was used to settle debts of the previous independent school. The auditor accepted this was intended as a ‘temporary arrangement’ but considered the GAG had not ‘been applied for the purposes intended by Parliament’ during the period of the loan. The money was lent to North Eastern Christian Schools Limited, a private limited company which changed its name to Chantry House Associates Limited on 7 October 2014. Chantry House Associates has one director: Christopher John Gray, the head of Grindon Hall Christian School. The related party transaction was shown in the school’s annual report subject to the auditor’s caveat.

Grindon Hall uses the Core Curriculum UK for its primary pupils. This curriculum is much-praised by Government ministers. Ofsted judged Grindon Hall to Require Improvement in March 2014 and said that while the curriculum provided ‘many opportunities for pupils to develop their literacy and numeracy skills’, the ‘practice and repetition of questions’ should be balanced with ‘more challenging learning tasks, especially for the most able’. Ofsted also found some ‘underperformance’ in the Phonics Screening Test and in pupils’ progress in writing and maths between Key Stages 1 to 2.

It would be unfair to judge the Core Curriculum UK on the strength of one school’s Ofsted report. But the curriculum is marketed as having been ‘highly successful’ in the USA and has ministerial approval.

That said, Ofsted monitoring in September 2014 showed Grindon Hall was taking effective action to address the problems relating to teaching identified in the full inspection. However, inspectors did not comment on the EFA intervention which must have been going on at the time.

Grindon Hall joins other free schools where the trusts running them have been criticised for the handling of their finances. These include King’s Science Academy, E-Act, Barnfield Federation, Brighton and Hove Bilingual School and Durham Free School.

UPDATE 12 January 2015 17.23. Private Eye 9 January edition features Durham Free Schools (DFS) which, as stated above, has, like Grindon Hall Christian School, been served with a Financial Notice to Improve. It reminds readers that Durham education chiefs said DFS wouldn't be viable because Durham had a shortage of pupils. They were overruled. Local MP, Roberta Blackman-Woods has discovered the cost of funding DFS, which has just 90 pupils, is five times more than the average per-pupil cost at a state school.

*I can't provide a direct link. However, a internet search should find it.
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Andy V's picture
Sat, 10/01/2015 - 13:12

A counterpoint perspective of "... the Core Curriculum UK for its primary pupils. This curriculum is much-praised by Government ministers" based on the response of American teachers can be found at:

Janet Downs's picture
Sun, 11/01/2015 - 09:35

Andy, thanks for the link. The Common Core standards in the US are an attempt to impose some kind of national curriculum on the nation's schools. States sign up for it, I believe. This initiative, as you rightly say, has been controversial.

The Core Curriculum UK, however, is based on the Core Knowledge Curriculum introduced by E D Hirsch in the 80s. That said, the Core Knowledge Foundation supports the Common Core standards and the NY Times described Hirsch's Core Knowledge curriculum as one of the most popular Core Curriculums in the US.

The Core Knowledge Curriculum (US version) is built on the premise that all US children need to know identical core facts and these should be taught sequentially. Opponents argue that the content of core knowledge is decided by one person whose views about what are essential facts may differ from other views.

The UK version has been rehashed for the English market by Civitas. The first book in the series, 'What Your Year 1 Child Needs to Know', was co-authored by Annaliese Briggs, the short-lived head of Pimlico Free School. There's some sensible advice in it - reading aloud to children is rightly described as essential. 'Language and Literature' takes up nearly half of the book and comprises mainly traditional tales. Unfortunately, the stories have been rewritten by someone with a plodding literary style. Better-written versions, often illustrated, are available elsewhere (eg the Ladybird series).

The 'History and Geography' section claims 'History starts with the Romans!' because that's when history was first written down (what, no Herodotus or Thucydides?). Anything before the Romans is 'pre-history', the book says.

There's nothing wrong with a carefully-planned curriculum but I feel this is best done by teachers in schools within a framework of 'broad and balanced' and adapting it to local circumstances. And if schools want to use Core Knowledge UK, then so be it. But I'm concerned when Gov't ministers promote it as the best curriculum available (national curriculum, notwithstanding!).

sfk's picture
Sun, 11/01/2015 - 00:29

Won't new government regulations aimed against the teaching of creationism as a science mean these schools will lose public funding?

Janet Downs's picture
Sun, 11/01/2015 - 08:29

sfk - you're right - any school which receives its funding direct from the DfE would lose its funding if it taught creationism in science. Grindon Hall Christian School (the state-funded free school) has said it will not teach creationism in science. Ofsted did not refer to it in its inspection reports.

That's not to say creationist theories shouldn't be discussed - creation myths are testimony to human imagination. However, they should not be presented as scientific fact. Neither should they be presented as a critique of evolution as in parts of the USA. In Louisiana, for example, the The Balanced Treatment for Creation-Science and Evolution-Science Act, passed in 1981, made it mandatory for creation 'science' and evolution to be given equal treatment in schools. Both should be presented as theories, the Act ruled. The Act was ruled as unconstitutional in a 1987 court case but remains on the Louisiana statute book even though it is now unenforceable.

Attempts to strike off the Act failed in April last year.

Andy V's picture
Sun, 11/01/2015 - 10:42

"creation myths are testimony to human imagination", you mean the way that cosmology and competing theories are within the umbrella of the scientific family regarding the big bang and alternatives.

It is fascinating to see that what expert scientists ascribe as being 'theories' and 'hypothesises' are translated by others as being facts with the explicitly implied message that they are incontrovertible truths, whereas it is self evident that a theory/hypothesis cannot be presented as fact.

Rather than adopt a judgemental understanding I prefer to maintain an open mind on issues that simply cannot be unequivocally proven one way or another. Not to do so limits one to having a closed mind.

Roger Titcombe's picture
Sun, 11/01/2015 - 11:49

Andy - There are no religious 'creation myths' that justify their being taught in schools as if they are are somehow comparable in kind with scientific truth.

I use 'truth' very carefully in the sense of it always being only the best truth that humanity has got at the present time. This means the 'best' in the Karl Popper sense of being the most resilient to attempts at refutation.

You seem to be trying to draw a distinction between the science of cosmology and other science. All science is hypothesis. The only difference between the highly counter intuitive Principle of Archimedes (the weight of the water is what counts) and the many highly counter intuitive cosmological hypotheses, is that no-one now tries to experimentally refute Archimedes.

The distinction between religious myth and science does not lie in the the degree of strangeness of the content. No religious myth could be stranger than quantum theory or aspects of the even newer science of chaos. However, what makes the latter science, and so distinguishes it from religious myth, is that science positively invites refutation whereas religions have tended to issue 'fatwas' against any questioning of divinely revealed truth.

Today millions of people are marching all over Europe in support of the right to ask any questions about anything.

I am all in favour of teaching both religious myths and science in state schools. Both should be taught factually, which is not the same as saying that both can properly be presented to children as containing true facts in relation to the age, creation, development of the universe, the earth and the life on it.

Religions should be taught factually as religions - what they are about, what their adherents believe, what rituals are involved, the nature of their priesthoods and the extent that their internal conflicts have driven history, historical conflicts and the very real and present day troubles of the world.

Science must be taught not so much as facts but as the best available process for finding out about our existence.

This is not a matter of having or not having a 'closed mind'. You are free to believe what you like, but children have a right not to be misled about the nature of truth by their teachers in their schools.

When you reply to this, as I am sure you will, please try to be polite in your disagreement.

Andy V's picture
Sun, 11/01/2015 - 12:15

My response was to Janet's post and was based on what Janet said, so please do not skew the context. Janet is perfectly capable and more than able to respond by herself and does not need the assistance of those who may see themselves as knights in shining armour.

I find it extraordinary that you feel the need to attack/criticise the thrust of my post while simultaneously agreeing with it, "Science must be taught not so much as facts but as the best available process for finding out about our existence." To borrow from a Strictly Come Dancing, A-ma-zing!

My position - please do take the time to carefully read what I posted - is that neither science nor religion have unequivocal / incontrovertible proofs and therefore I keep and open as opposed to closed mind. That said, I may be doing you an injustice in that you have read it but persist in being deliberately provocative and argumentative.

How gracious of you to accede that people (including me) have the right to belief what they wish to, "This is not a matter of having or not having a ‘closed mind’. You are free to believe what you like ..." Your condescension is then wholly contradicted when you assert "but children have a right not to be misled about the nature of truth by their teachers in their schools." What a magnificent presumption on your part. Whatever was or is so wrong or misleading about children being taught the scientific position in their science lessons and alternative views through RE and strands of Citizenship? Perhaps you suggesting that children should only be exposed to theories of science and not be allowed to learn about alternative views.

I'll thank you to keep your outrageous comments to yourself, "When you reply to this, as I am sure you will, please try to be polite in your disagreement." Personally, I find condescension and self-contradictory argument used simply to try and undermine another person both impolite and revealing.

Roger Titcombe's picture
Sun, 11/01/2015 - 12:01

It is not just the teaching of creationism as fact IN SCIENCE that should not be permissible. Creationism must not be taught as fact AT ALL. It can of course be taught as something that some religious adherents believe.

What should be banned is the double talk of evolution being taught in science by a teacher who describes it as, 'a theory you have to learn that we in our school do not believe', at the same time that creationism is taught in RE as, 'something that must be true (unlike science) because God told us these things and that in our school we believe that God is always right.

Will this devious fudge be banned in our schools. I doubt it.

Andy V's picture
Sun, 11/01/2015 - 12:17

Yet more polemical assumption and presumption. How very sad :-(

Andy V's picture
Sun, 11/01/2015 - 21:06

For the purposes of clarification my comments here are based directly on the assertions that "our schools" teach Creationism is this way. The latter is exemplified by the statement that:

"the double talk of evolution being taught in science by a teacher who describes it as, ‘a theory you have to learn that we in our school do not believe’, at the same time that creationism is taught in RE as, ‘something that must be true (unlike science) because God told us these things and that in our school we believe that God is always right."

It begs the question as to just how many schools the author of the post has been into to witness this alleged style of teaching and whether the author has attended such a science lesson at Grindon Hall?

It is in this context that I referred to, "polemical assumption and presumption."

Anecdotal I know but I have yet to work in or visit a state or independent school that permits let alone promotes the scenario alleged in the post at 12.01 pm above.

Roger Titcombe's picture
Sun, 11/01/2015 - 12:32

Andy - As for being polite, you just can't manage it can you? I have not called you names, impugned your motives or attempted to undermine you. Nor do I intend to. I am just disagreeing with you - that's all. Nor will I be put off posting on this site by being told by you to, 'keep my outrageous views to myself'.

They are in fact mainstream.

I am simply arguing that in English schools pupils should enjoy the same right they have in schools in America and most of Europe, not to be taught creationism and other religious myths as true in RE, while conflicting science is taught as 'something on the syllabus that you have to learn', but that we don't believe in this school'.

Andy V's picture
Sun, 11/01/2015 - 12:38

Posting on an issue is one thing but openly attacking others is quite another. Your comment "please try to be polite in your disagreement" is personalised offensive and wholly irrelevant to the issue under discussion. Clearly you can't see that.

Roger Titcombe's picture
Sun, 11/01/2015 - 12:54

Andy - I haven't attacked anybody. I was just trying to gently caution you against launching yet another torrent of abuse at me because you disagree with my arguments. It does you no credit. I am sorry it didn't work. How can it have been irrelevant given the aggressive nature of your response?

Andy V's picture
Sun, 11/01/2015 - 13:21

Oh, I see. The Roger's law prevails and how I - the target of the comment - perceive and receive the comment counts for nought. How silly of me to think that my view of what was said does not count. What an insight into your attitude and approach, "I was just trying to gently caution you ...". Does this make you the LSN policeman?

If you cannot comprehend that attacking / slighting me in terms of being polite before I've even read your post is irrelevant to the issue Janet raised and I replied to, then, I am at a loss. To exacerbate and compound the matter you assert that, "As for being polite, you just can’t manage it can you?" This exemplifies your rude and impolite attitude to me. This is at the heart of what you cannot see. It is this that is wholly irrelevant to Janet's comments and my response. You ignore the context of her and my comments and conclude your opening comment with the outrageous statement that I am to be be polite in any response I may make to you.

Not only that but you compound your personal attack by saying, "I was just trying to gently caution you against launching yet another torrent of abuse at me". Do enlighten me regarding the "torrent of abuse".

I give a robust response to contradictions in your own argument and it is deemed "aggressive". Herein lies an example of perception: I consider my response to be direct and robust whereas you consider it to aggressive.

sfk's picture
Sun, 11/01/2015 - 14:02

Thanks for this response to NY question janet

Roger Titcombe's picture
Sun, 11/01/2015 - 14:05

I am fed up with this now Andy.

I usually get this abuse from you whenever I post anything. You don't need my asking you to be polite as an excuse for you to do it. As for your 'torrent of abuse', this is what you have written.

[you] persist in being deliberately provocative and argumentative.
magnificent presumption on your part
I’ll thank you to keep your outrageous comments to yourself
more polemical assumption and presumption
How very sad
Clearly you can’t see that
What an insight into your attitude and approach
Does this make you the LSN policeman?
I consider my response to be direct and robust whereas you consider it to aggressive.

Well, it looks pretty aggressive and personal to me. I never address you remotely like this. The most personal think I have done is to ask you (in vain) to be polite.

I will stop responding to you on this thread for now.

Happy New Year

Andy V's picture
Sun, 11/01/2015 - 14:30

I too am fed-up with snide rude comments in your posts relating to those that I make. I am also fed up with you assuming the role of arbiter on what is acceptable and unacceptable, and adopting a position whereby you can say what you like but if someone challenges or takes offence then that is there fault not yours. You are deliberately blind to the negative nature of what you say and keen alive to everything that others say.

For an experienced debater I had no idea that you were such a highly sensitive soul. Now let me see is that me responding in similar vein to that which you employ or am I being aggressive or impolite. In relation to the use and understanding of language I can only suggest that your interpretation of "abuse" is somewhat different to mine.

All I have done is (a) express my feelings about your explicit characterisation of me as being impolite, and (b) mirror back at you inconsistencies/contradictions in your own argument. I have used phraseology that reflects my astonishment and incredulity and, yes, strength of ire regarding being labelled impolite. In terms of the latter you can easily avoid a persons ire by treating them in the same polite manner with which you wish to be treated.

I also note what I perceive to be a closing comment that falls somewhere between insincerity, dis-ingenuity or sarcasm.

David Barry's picture
Sun, 11/01/2015 - 18:48

Andy given your willingness to use robust language yourself I am able to save time by saying that you are either being stupid or devious.

Science and religion are completely different areas and not commensurate at all. In particular there are a number of scientific findings which have the status of "incontrovertible truths" in the sense that they are absolutely and definitely established.

Religion has no incontrevertible truths. That is why there are a number of them, all claiming to be the true religion.

Creationism is not a scientific theory but a religious claim.

(In technical terms truth claims in science and truth claims in religion belong to different types. To consider them as if they were the same is to make a "category mistake")

Consequently to discuss creationism as if its truth or falsity has the same status as the truth or falsity of evolution, is simply wrong.

David Barry's picture
Sun, 11/01/2015 - 18:38

Thank you for (yet another) important post Janet.

I find it sad that we should have got to the stage where the auditor:

"considered the GAG had not ‘been applied for the purposes intended by Parliament’ during the period of the loan." -

Without any apparent sanction being applied.

Andy V's picture
Sun, 11/01/2015 - 20:55

My posts are far from "devious". Rather I have been completely upfront and transparent is what I have said. As to the assertion that I may be being "stupid" who am I argue, debate or challenge your opinion / perception but assuming your comment is based on the posts in this thread suggest that you undertake a close reading of what has been said and the context in which they were made. I would however suggest that even prefixed as being robust calling me "devious or stupid" represents a personal attack and belittles you rather than me.

I have not asserted that science and religion are the same. I therefore have no difficulty in agreeing that they are different. Indeed, both Janet and Roger are aware that my position is that science curricula must be based on the latest knowledge and understanding in each discrete area (e.g. Physics, Chemistry, Biology), and that RE should be taught separately as a discrete subject. The latter preferably based on the 6 major world religions and/or SACRE locally agreed syllabus.

I have not asserted that religion has any incontrovertible truths and have no idea why you should go to the trouble of implying that I have. Neither have I said that Creationism is a scientific theory. From this point on in your post you appear to depart into some tangential debate about things that I never said or implied. That is to say, that my clearly stated position was and remains "that neither science nor religion have unequivocal / incontrovertible proofs and therefore I keep and open as opposed to closed mind." (see comment @ 12.15 pm). This comment was made in a particular context, "the way that cosmology and competing theories are within the umbrella of the scientific family regarding the big bang and alternatives. It is fascinating to see that what expert scientists ascribe as being ‘theories’ and ‘hypothesises’ are translated by others as being facts with the explicitly implied message that they are incontrovertible truths, whereas it is self evident that a theory/hypothesis cannot be presented as fact." (see comment @ 10.42 am)

I am not therefore supporting or decrying religious or creationist views, and believe it or not neither am I attacking science through cosmology (or evolution). Rather as I have repeatedly asserted, it is my position that without unequivocal incontrovertible truths/facts it is better to keep an open mind. A strength of debate is being willing to listen to alternative opinions and then make your mind up (e.g. maintain ones original position, be influenced by what others present to the opinion of mollifying that position or change ones position). But in debate it is important not to misrepresent what others say, which for whatever reason you seem to have slipped into.

With regard to Grindon Hall, when they entered the state sector their position on Creationism should have changed such that it was removed entirely from the science curriculum and placed within RE. If this has not happened then the EFA must address that as part of the funding agreement. I had assumed this was the case by virtue of Janet's top thread stating that the Ofsted inspection made no reference to it (and presumably that Creationism was not part of the science curriculum nor was it given supremacy over it).

Brian's picture
Sun, 11/01/2015 - 22:30

I suspect you may be misusing the word 'theory', a common ploy of creationists who assert that evolution is only a theory and therefore even scientists are unsure of its validity. To a scientist a theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment.

Note that ... 'based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed ....'. The scientific use of theory is not the same as the everyday use of the word.

Roger Titcombe's picture
Sun, 11/01/2015 - 21:27

The point is that creationism is not acceptable in RE either if it is taught as something that is true rather than as something some religious people believe. Something cannot be true in one subject but not in another.

Janet Downs's picture
Mon, 12/01/2015 - 08:29

David - I suspect (but have no evidence) that the qualified accounts submitted by Grindon Hall Christian School might have triggered the EFA investigation. The sanction would presumably be the Financial Notice to Improve.

That said, the FNI doesn't refer to the temporary loan which the auditor claimed was using public money in a way not sanctioned by the Gov't. And Ofsted didn't mention that EFA investigation in its monitoring report. This investigation, as I said above, must surely have been going on at the same time.

This situation reveals again how the EFA relies on auditors spotting when academies/free schools use money in a way not sanctioned by Parliament. When they don't (as in the case of Sawtry Community College), the EFA relies on whistleblowers.

As more and more schools become academies (and more academies change hands), then this reduces the EFA's chances of spotting misuse of public money. It can't be expected to read through thousands of accounts annually especially when it's supposed to reduce its costs.

Andy V's picture
Mon, 12/01/2015 - 09:16

The situation as I understand it is that:

1. No state school of any type teaches religion as anything other than this faith group teaches and believes 'x', that faith group teaches and believes 'y' etc. I have yet to have to encounter any state school that teaches faith positions as facts. RE is covered through teaching/belief/faith (including rites, rituals, morality and ethics). Additionally, any state school that fails to meet the statutory requirements faces the potential for having its funding stopped.

2. Independent schools (association and non-association) are at liberty to cover whatever curriculum studies they choose to providing each school satisfies all the appropriate legislation regarding the operation and delivery of education. Additionally, the association schools must also satisfy the membership criteria for their association (e.g. HMC, GSA, IAPS).

Thus unless there is tangible evidence to corroborate the suggestion that state funded schools are delivering aspects of RE under the labels of 'fact' and/or 'truth' then what is being mooted falls between pure conjecture and ardently held personal - but unevidenced - opinion.

Andy V's picture
Mon, 12/01/2015 - 09:47

I would repeat - indeed shout it from the roof tops - that I am not a Creationist nor an apologist for creationism.

With regard to the use of the word theory, I recognise that it needs to be applied appropriately within the context of its usage. That is to say, it can be used informally (e.g. I have a theory as to why 'a' did what they did) and formally (e.g. the theory of the existence of black holes has been challenged by Professor Hawkins whose alternative theories deny their existence)

The cosmological (scientific) theories (there are several) regarding how everything came into being, into existence have changed over the years and cosmologists cannot agree on a common or the singularly most common causation/reason for the creation event. It follows then that they are working on, researching and exploring theories to arrive at hypothesises and irrespective of the number of checks and the amount of research that goes into them the conclusions are (a) not fixed, because the very nature of science is to constantly explore and seek clearer understanding (b) based on the prevailing balance of understanding based on existing knowledge.

I believe that I made all reasonable attempts at the outset of this spin off debate to contextualise my use of the word theory but it seems that either I wasn't as clear as I thought or that readers have missed, misread, misunderstood my intention.

To borrow from finance and accounting, the bottom line is that religious groups cannot prove the existence of a supernatural being that is labelled as God/god, but neither can science prove the causation of existence (universe, galaxies, life). Neither side of the issue possesses the incontrovertible / unequivocal evidence to prove their case. Hence I choose to keep an open mind and indeed contend that science by its very mode of operation must likewise keep an open mind. Failure to do so would close all doors to further and deeper understanding.

Roger Titcombe's picture
Mon, 12/01/2015 - 15:58

Andy - Unfortunately your point 1 is open to question.

I have recorded Richard Dawkins' Ch 4 Programme 'Faith School Menace' You can view the programme here.

The whole programme is well worth watching if only to note Dawkins' calm, polite, reasonable and rational demeanour throughout - contrary to the stereotypes.

About 20 minutes in you will find Richard talking to a class of Muslim pupils and their science teacher. You will hear the teacher say that she teaches the theory of evolution to her classes as required by regulations, but that none of them believe it. Richard then has a gentle conversation with the pupils in which he probes their understanding of evolution, which reveals a shocking ignorance and lack of understanding.

One of the pupils asks Richard if he believes if, 'humans are descended from apes', as if that was shockingly unlikely.

He replies memorably and accurately, "No, humans are not DESCENDED from apes. Humans ARE apes".

I am aware of hearsay accounts of the teaching of evolution in 'Christian' ethos schools, where it is alleged to be taught as an unproven 'theory' that conflicts with the Word of God.

I can't prove that it happens but I do feel that the regulations should be framed in such a way that it cannot happen.

It is not just a matter of what teachers teach in RE and/or science, but the questions that pupils are allowed to ask in those lessons.

If you follow my posts and read my book you will be aware of the emphasis placed in developmental pedagogy of the need for plenty of talk and discussion in classrooms between pupils and between the teacher and pupils. Metacognition (debating with oneself) is even more central.

If, for example, a pupil asked a biological question about the implications of a virgin birth for the pattern of chromosomal inheritance, would that be a classroom debate that would be permitted/encouraged in a faith school? I can't see any problem with it in a secular school.

We clearly disagree fundamentally about religions and faith schools in general.

I have my doubts about whether regulations can ever be framed to sufficiently protect pupils from proselytising in faith schools. I am sure we all watched the TV coverage of the 4 million people who marched and demonstrated in France on Sunday. These conspicuously included people of all races and religions in which Jews and Moslems were well represented, as well as Christians.

All state schools in France are strictly secular. I don't pick up any pressure from any of the faith and ethnic communities in that country for the introduction of faith schools. France is a largely Roman Catholic country with populations of Moslems and Jews that are much larger than in the UK.

Janet Downs's picture
Mon, 12/01/2015 - 17:45

UPDATE: Private Eye revealed how per-pupil funding at Durham Free School, mentioned in the article above, is five times the average. Read Update in main article for further details.

Andy V's picture
Mon, 19/01/2015 - 16:59

Government funding withdrawn from DFS which will almost inevitably lead to its closure

Andy V's picture
Mon, 12/01/2015 - 19:20

How many times do I have to say this to you: I am not an apologist for either religion or science. If I am an apologist for anything it is the need for open enquiring minds that take little or nothing for granted alongside an element of parental choice.

In relation to point 1, I have stated what my understanding is. It is abundantly clear that if a school is in breach of this then the appropriate authority(ies) should take the appropriate action. Professor Dawkin's is inaccurate in his assertion that Ofsted don't cover RE. The situation is that the content of RE delivered in a faith school is covered by S48 inspections but the curriculum, quality of teaching, achievement etc do fall to Ofsted. It follows then that if during a lesson observation, meeting with pupils or teachers it comes to light that faith based teaching is being used to override the science curriculum this should trigger action. This is particularly pertinent post Trojan Horse and the focus on teaching British values. In this regard, I receive inspection reports daily via email alerts and can advise LSN contributors that both Christian, Jewish and Muslim school in the non-association independent sector have been given grade 4 e.g. when inspector find that British values are not adequately cover, when Arabic and Hebrew is prioritised over English, when Judaic or Koranic studies create an imbalance to the overall curriculum (typically this tends to be at the expense of the performing arts). It must also be said that even if a school rigorously sticks to the prescribed curriculum and teacher do not interject contradictions it is impossible to stop parents and off-site faith teaching undertaken in person time from influencing a pupils personal views.

Britain has a long established and respected tradition of faith based schooling albeit originally arising from the Christian faith. The net effect of this, even before the Blair decision, is that it is not economically or realistically viable to bring them to a end. The pre new wave approved by Blair own their own real estate (land, buildings, and often plant and machinery), and the government simply cannot afford either to buy them out or assume that the owners would sell them. The potential for compulsory purchase is there but is also unlikely to be realistic because in all likelihood the owners would bring class action for persecution and discrimination. Returning to the centuries old tradition and heritage of Christian schools in this country I cannot see any relevant connect between that and any other nation that hasn't had that experience. E.g.: The France don't teach RE is their state school's, so what?

You persist in asking me questions I simply cannot answer and can't help wondering why you pose them e.g. how on earth am I/why do you expected me to know the answer to: "If, for example, a pupil asked a biological question about the implications of a virgin birth for the pattern of chromosomal inheritance, would that be a classroom debate that would be permitted/encouraged in a faith school?"

In terms of Professor Dawkin's I would refer you to his attack on fairy tales at the Cheltenham Science Festival last summer. In his zeal to attack anything and everything not rooted in his definition of rational logic, fact and reality he espoused the view that all such stories be banned. What he failed to address, for whatever reason/motivation, was the importance of what the inner message of the stories are. For me this is not representative of a rational or balance thought process. Rather it conjures up the potential dangers of hardline over zealous fundamentalism in the name of science. But enough on this topic, which has been aired in previous LSN threads.

Personally, I cannot subscribe with the assertion that France is still a largely RC country. Rather like to UK and Christianity I think things have moved on and church attendance in both countries would support that - not that such attendance is a requirement for a person to consider themselves Christian of any denomination.

This is now a too oft revisited line and discussion between us (and occasionally others) and I am now somewhat tired of it and am drawing a line under it.

Just hold onto the fact that I am not an apologist for religion or creationism or science and lets leave it there.

Rosie Fergusson's picture
Mon, 12/01/2015 - 21:32

Aaah...another classic LSN "I want the Last Word" debate....

Janet Downs's picture
Fri, 16/01/2015 - 09:56

Did you know that Bolivia is the largest country in South America and the people speak Portuguese? No? Neither did I. I always thought Brazil was the largest country in South America and the official languages of Bolivia were Spanish and some indigenous languages.

But according to Book 6 in the Core Knowledge UK series, Bolivia is the largest South American country and Bolivians speak Portuguese.

The Geography section claims the North West of England comprises just two counties: Cumbria and Lancashire. Do Cheshire, Merseyside and Greater Manchester no longer exist?

If these books claim to give essential knowledge, then the information should at least be correct.

Andy V's picture
Fri, 16/01/2015 - 10:40

Bolivia is not even the second largest, that is Argentina. Third is Peru, fourth Columbia, fifth Chile.

Perhaps the authors relied on the same authoritative source (Steve Emmerson) who claimed on Fox News that Birmingham was a Muslim-only city and no go area for whites:

There again the Core Knowledge UK series may have been scripted by the same writers of the infamous distortion of WWII history in the Hollywood production of U571 and capturing of the Enigma cipher machine by the USN.

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