Faith schools are 'at odds with reason', says chaplain

Teachers' leaders have demanded an end to the funding of more faith schools, saying pupils risked being indoctrinated by religious extremists.

They made the call after it was revealed that 42 of the first 100 of Tony Blair's flagship academies had Christian sponsors.

Delegates at the 160,000-strong Association of Teachers and Lecturers' conference in Gateshead warned that the increasing number of faith schools posed a threat to integration and provided "fertile ground for religious and ethnic conflicts".

The Rev Chris Wilson, chaplain at Cambridge Regional College, supporting the ban on funding, said: "We need to be concerned that some of the faith communities have agendas which are at odds with reason and progress and the interests of science. My aspiration would be to have a secular education system in which all faiths are honoured and respected."

Delegates cited the teaching of creationism in science lessons as a major concern. Schools sponsored by the Vardy Foundation, run by Sir Peter Vardy, have been accused of doing this.

Dr Mary Bousted, the union's general secretary, said: "What else is going on? Are people being taught that it is all right to be homophobic? Government policy - particularly through the academies programme - is about a rapid increase in faith schools.

"ATL members are worried that this rate of increase will see fundamentalists having a growing influence on the school curriculum."

Andy Ballard, from Somerset, added: "Schools should focus on teaching kids to be decent human beings. They should take pupils of all faiths and of none in equal measure."

However, Elizabeth Green, from Wiltshire, argued: "Faith schools have a place in our society and all parents should have the right to choose one for their child if they so wish."

The conference voted to demand a ban on the funding of any future faith schools. It also called on ministers to give cash aid to any existing faith schools in the state sector that wanted to become secular. At present 15 per cent of the capital budget of voluntarily aided faith schools comes from their church group.

However, they voted against a demand for new laws banning the teaching of creationism and intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in science lessons, after opposition from religious education teachers. The Royal Society - Britain's most prestigious science body - called for a ban, saying children were confused by the teaching of the Bible's creation story in science lessons.

This weekend Britain's biggest teachers' union, the National Union of Teachers, will be urged to back an end to all state funding of faith schools. Delegates at its conference in Torquay will also cite growing fears of indoctrination of pupils by fundamentalists.

A spokesman for the Department for Education and Skills defended the funding of further faith schools - saying that parents should have the right to send their children to an academy sponsored by a faith group if they wanted to.

Under the academies programme, the sponsor can control the governing body and determine what is to be included in the curriculum. Mr Blair is seeking to give similar powers to the new independently run "trust" schools he is planning to set up.

Meanwhile, the Schools minister, Jacqui Smith, will today unveil a £50m package to boost vocational studies in schools. The money will be used to train teachers to teach five diplomas, to be introduced in 2008 as an alternative to GCSEs.

Sponsored academies

* The United Learning Trust, an Anglican charity linked to the United Church (seven academies)

* The Oasis Trust, a Christian charity founded by the Baptist minister and TV presenter the Rev Steve Chalke (four)

* Sir Peter Vardy, car dealer and creationist whose schools are "based on Christian principles" (three)

* Bob Edmiston, owner of the IM group, who founded the evangelical charity Christian Vision (two)

* Eric Payne, owner of a family engineering business and founder of the Grace Foundation, a charity to support Christian work

* Graham Dacre, founder of the Lind Automotive group and a committed Christian who set up the Lind Trust, a charitable foundation

* Church of England (15)

* Roman Catholic (four)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
voices
News
general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
News
Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge show their newly-born daughter, their second child, to the media outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in central London, on 2 May 2015.
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Linux - Central London

£40000 - £48000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Linux ...

Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrator - Windows, Linux - Central London

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrat...

Recruitment Genius: Nursery Manager

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Nursery Manager is required t...

Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Windows, Linux - Central London

£40000 - £48000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Windo...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before