Saturday, October 08, 2005

Are we Christian by Default?

A recent poll shows something like 7% of theUK populous attends church. Are we to infer from this that only 7% of the population believe in God? I would say not. We can assume that some people who do believe in the Xian god (or some god, anyway) don't actually attend church, but it's highly unlikely that this represents the remaining 93% of people.

A much larger cross-section of our population is *forced* to worship a god that they (or their parents) may or may not believe in on a daily basis! This goes on without our consent because it's written into the education act and schools that don't follow it are criticised by Ofsted. In fact the act itself describes the prayers and hymns as "a daily act of worship" a phrase which I find sickening.

The education act also contains a rider that parents may remove their children from religious instruction as was pointed out in a recent NSS Newsline piece:

"Parents are entitled under Section 71 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 (as in earlier Education Acts) to withdraw their children from religious assemblies and RE lessons. Many parents are unaware of this right..."

This has an adverse affect on the few children who are removed from as they feel isolated from their peers and are often treat as "weirdos".

This requirement to worship *must* to be removed urgently; not only to foster amity in our multi-cultural society but also to fairly treat the majority of parents and pupils alike. God is an idea for most and it's not needed for a moral existence.

The idea that Xianity is the default religion is so entrenched in British culture that computer programmers naturally assume that people are "C of E" as a default with RC coming a close second and even then, many parents who don't actually believe in God baptise their children because it's the done thing (and it's good bestow the rank of god parent on a close relative or friend). My son was baptised for this reason - against my express wishes.

How many people even know the meaning of secular? Look up the definition of secular on the web and you're battered not by secularists rather by adverts from Xian organisations who are working a "sweep" strategy. (A sweep is a tactic from doorstep selling whereby a customer is offered a second chance to buy the product [typically double-glazing] by a senior representative who can offer a lower price). It's a measure of the desperate lengths that Xians are exploring to rescue their fading congregation. The Alpha course is another and it's just as cynical.

Similarly, how many of us truly know what a Humanist believes in? It's an uncomfortable term for me, but it's been coined to reflect one who has the interest of (fellow) humans at heart. It recognises that we're something special, but not that this was divine intervention, merely that's the way it is...

Unless of course, you're a Muslim Humanist, or a Jewish Humanist... and so on...

I mention this because as a secular humanist (there's a mouthful) I don't like being bundled with the faithful minority.

I would also question why more people aren't aware what secularism (or more accurately, secular humanism) means and I imagine its because our government is overrun with Christians and the religious still - even in the 21st Century - occupy unelected positions of power that they no longer deserve.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Evidence of Tony Blair lying and Peter Vardy spin... This was just one man's opinion, but he was in a pretty good place to make a comment. I'm currently trying to reach Mr Potter and if I do, I'll update this story.
Dear Mr Blair,

Having read your statement about the new King’s Academy in Middlesbrough as reported in the Middlesbrough Evening Gazette (March 18th 2004) (Mr Blair told the Commons how pleased he was to see the changes compared with the school which was there) and having been Deputy Headteacher of that very school (Coulby Newham School), I think some truths need to be established.

Coulby Newham was a successful school. Its OFSTED reports of March 1995 and December 2000 revealed a well-managed school where most of the teaching was good, very good or excellent and where pupils were happy and secure.

Most importantly, in September 2002, HMI reported that the school was even better than at its last inspection. It provided a good quality of education, a good climate for learning and good management and leadership. Standards had improved by encouraging pupils to work harder and to better effect. HMI commented on the calm atmosphere, the shared humour and the mutual respect between staff and pupils. The contented frame of mind which predominated in the school was a major achievement. Pupils were keen to learn and followed instructions willingly. The school was succeeding in steadily raising pupils’ attainment. Indeed in the value-added statistics for the 2002 examinations Coulby Newham was the second highest attaining school in Middlesbrough (beaten narrowly by the selective Macmillan College).

Most significantly HMI stated very clearly that the new school (ie the King’s Academy) should adapt aspects of Coulby Newham’s good practice. HMI recommended that “a major contribution to the establishment of the new school would be to identify those things that are done well at Coulby Newham, and why they work well, so that the new school can consider how to transfer and adapt the aspects of good practice to which many of its pupils will be accustomed, within its intended practices and structures.”

Finally, the current Year 11 at the Academy includes Coulby Newham School pupils who achieved outstanding results in Key Stage 3 SATs. They were confidently expected to achieve at least 40% A* to C grades in the 2004 examinations.

I am sorry that in order to play up the significance of the King’s Academy, which is an unproven school, it is necessary to denigrate the very significant achievements of Coulby Newham. This is not the first time this tactic has been employed and those of us who worked at the school and who have offered a lifetime of public service are tired of this approach.

Yours sincerely,

Gordon Potter

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Excellent "get you started" post from a fellow blogger:

McQuoid is either a bald-faced liar or misinformed: but he's not the only one.

The whole way Blair and his cronies sell Kings Academy is based on the idea that King's Academy replaced a failing, inner-city school. Well folks, it wasn't failing (on the contrary, it was succeeding) and it isn't inner-city.

And by the way folks, have you noticed that right now, we have a Queen in charge of the place - not a King... so whose academy is it, really? Answers to comments please (but sorry, no prizes for the correct answer).


I started this occasional blog to keep folk posted with the Campaign for Secular education (UK) to get the fundies back out of schools. Peter Vardy and his ilk are snake oil salesmen selling "nice" ideas to the masses but the real reason they want to be in education is to promote their own brand of Christianity and New Labour is behind them all the way.

They don't like gays; the think the world was created by a god and Darwinian evolution seems like something of an inconvience to them. Facts don't bother them unless they've twisted them and although they're in a minority, they are making great inroads into our children's schools.

Well we want them out and we want to put the controls over education back with the LEA.

One of the biggest culprits is the Vardy Foundation (aka Emmanuel Schools Foundation) - run by a millionaire fundie version of Swiss Toni. Is this really the sort of guy you want in charge of your kids education?