Further to the story about Dr Evan Harris MP’s stance on abortion, a letter in today’s Observer signed by Harris and others challenges Archbishop Williams’ position:
Those strongly in favour of faith schools often cite the rights of religious parents, as taxpayers, to ensure that their child has State schooling within a school that promotes their faith. However, in areas where faith schools are over-subscribed, there is a real risk that non-religious parents, who are also taxpayers, do not have the same rights of access.
Suffolk County Council’s Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education (SACRE) will discuss guidance for teachers on the discussion of Creationism and Intelligent Design in RE lessons.
We wonder if some RE teachers may not be as informed about the scientific facts as they should be, and if their religious beliefs may influence their approach to the subject. We advocate training in basic science for RE teachers.
We welcome any evidence about good or bad examples of RE teaching when this subject has arisen. Please email us. Emails will be treated in strict confidence.
We reported that Newfoundlanders had banned faith schools, and a Conservative politician was fighting an election with the promise to bring them back. He lost.
Former US-President Al Gore has won a Nobel prize for his Climate Change work, but presumably this won’t impress Dover school governor Stewart Dimmock, who tried to ban the film from being shown in schools. He didn’t succeed but a judge ruled that, if shown in schools, the film must be accompanied with guidance “giving the other side of the argument”, which will gladden the hearts of climate change deniers everywhere.
The teaching of evolution is becoming increasingly difficult in UK schools because of the rise of creationism, a leading scientist is warning.
I recently emailed my MP, Tim Yeo, about the Governmentâ€™s plans to increase the number of faith schools. This was his reply:
Thank you for your e-mail of 11th September about the expansion of state sector faith schools.
I appreciate the concerns that you outline in your letter over the impact of faith schools on community cohesion. Clearly, there is a balance to be struck between the rights of parents to educate their children in a religious manner and the need to promote community cohesion.
Contrary to common belief, faith schools can achieve high levels of ethnic and social mix; the Roman Catholic Church, for instance, has made the point that in many areas, its schools achieve a higher level of diversity than secular schools.
It can be done. There were so many problems associated with sectarian education in Newfoundland that all schools were taken under secular state control in the 1990s. Before then, animosity between different faith schools even resulted in savage ice hockey matches which weren’t about playing the game, but an all-out battle.
One of the most discordant debates in Russian society is playing out in public schools like those in this city not far from Moscow, where the other day a teacher named Irina Donshina set aside her textbooks, strode before her second graders and, as if speaking from a pulpit, posed a simple question:
“Whom should we learn to do good from?”
“From God!” the children said.
Leading a class in prayer can be tricky if you are an atheist. Tim*, 24, has found it one of the many challenges of being a non-believer working at a Roman Catholic school in west London.
He does not think his colleagues know that he is an atheist it did not come up at the interview and he is only in his first year of working as a science teacher.
“As a new member of staff, I have kept my feelings on religion to myself and I don’t discuss it with anyone in the school,” he says. “Teaching in a faith school has only strengthened my atheism.”