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)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
fashionJ Crew introduces triple zero size to meet the Asia market demand
Sport
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Year 5/6 Teacher

£21000 - £31000 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: The JobWe are looking ...

Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: The Job...Due to continued ...

Supply Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Supply TeachersWould you l...

Job opportunities for SEN teachers and support staff in Essex

£50 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: We are urgently looking for...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice