Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Polly Toynbee on the academies bill

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The Con-Lib coalition's Academies Bill made it safely through its first reading in the Commons yesterday, despite warnings from opponents that it is being rushed through, and that it will lead to an increase in the number of faith schools. It looks set to be become law next Monday, so you could certainly argue that, for a significant reform to the schools system, the legislation will not have received an ample amount of scrutiny.

Writing in today's Guardian the British Humanist Association's president Polly Toynbee outlines why this bill is bad news for the education system. She provides lots of reasons, many of which aren't directly relevant to humanism, but she pays plenty of attention to what the reforms mean in relation to faith schools:
Faith schools are likely to boom, in this most secular of nations. An ICM poll for The British Humanist Association – of which I am president – finds 72% of people concerned at academies being set up by religious organisations. So far 273 faith schools are bidding to become academies, free to teach creationism or any nonsense they like. In the Lords, Baroness Murphy described one example: "Take the case of the Ebrahim Academy in Whitechapel, an academy school for boys … The school day begins with tahfeez, which is reciting the Qur'an and getting the pronunciation right, which takes up half the day. Then the national curriculum takes up the second half of the day. It is a state-funded, tax-funded madrasa for the Islamic faith."
Read on at the Guardian website, where there is, of course, a lively comments thread.


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