ACT - The Association of Christian Teachers

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Speak up for Educational Freedom

Speak up for Educational Freedom

In recent weeks I have urged you to respond to a government consultation - I have also been interviewed about it. Lets be clear it closes at 5pm on October 15th. On the face of it is about whether creationism can be taught in nursery schools. What's that all about you may say well once again the government have been hijacked by those who want to get faith out of schools. Nursery schools may lose their funding over this and children may not hear the creation story. It is time to take a stand. Those that are claiming creationism teaching equates to extremism want to destroy the very nature and history of schooling in the UK. Schools were the family business of the church we must not let others rob our children of the right to understand and question key bible stories and in the process explore their spiritual dimension.

To read and respond to the consultation I attach

SPEAK UP FOR EDUCATIONAL FREEDOM AND FOR TEACHING ABOUT GOD OUR CREATOR

Challenge the Government's restriction on teaching about our origin

As part of new regulations, the Government intends to remove funding from 'early years' education providers (e.g. nurseries) which don't teach a particular form of evolutionary theory. This has big implications for Christian nurseries and schools as well as for more general principles of educational freedom. The move follows a campaign that hijacked a Government consultation.

Please take action to oppose these restrictive changes by responding to the Government's consultation which closes at 5pm on Friday 17th October
 


Background  

  • In March, the Government launched a consultation on Childminding agencies and the role of local authorities. There was no specific question about teaching about creation - it was not formally part of the Consultation.
  • The Government received 678 responses. Around 450 of them expressed 'opposition to early education funding going to providers who they believe promote extremist views or teach creationism as scientific fact' - even though this was not part of the consultation. The BBC reported that these were a result of a campaign by the British Humanist Association (BHA).
  • In fact, 281 responses didn't answer any of the consultation's specific questions but simply commented on 'creationism as science and extremist views'. These responses were classified as a 'campaign' by the Government. 
  • However, in spite of this campaign on an issue not examined by the original consultation, the Government still responded, stating that the final regulations would set out that 'local authorities must not fund the early education entitlement through providers that fail to actively promote fundamental British values' or which promote, as evidence-based, 'views or theories that are contrary to established scientific or historical evidence'.
  • New Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, launched the updated Regulations in August, saying: "There can be no place for extremist views anywhere in the education system. The changes we are making today will ensure that all early years providers and schools are aligned with the need to protect children from views that are considered extreme."
  • The new Regulations state (Schedule 2, para 14): 'An excluded provider is defined as an independent school that: does not meet the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils set out in the Independent Schools Standards; does not actively promote fundamental British values; or promotes, as evidence-based, views and theories which are contrary to established scientific or historical evidence and explanations.'
  • The Government is currently inviting your views on these regulations. The consultation closes at 5pm on Friday 17th October. 


Issues

The Government's new regulations raise a number of issues:

  • Hijacking of consultation: Why has the Government allowed a previous consultation exercise to be hijacked by those campaigning on an issue that was not the subject of that consultation? If the response raised issues for further examination, the Government should have consulted further rather than absorbing the campaign's objective into new regulations.
  • Pejorative association with extremism: Why is teaching about creation being linked with 'extremist' views? Where will this lead for those who dissent from the assertion that a particular view of evolution is all that there is to say about our origin?
  • The integrated nature of 'early years' education: What does this ban mean in the context of 'early years' education'? Remember that these are children aged from birth to five years of age. Few, if any nurseries have separate 'science' lessons at that age. Where and how would they be teaching evolution? Does this ban in fact mean that if a nursery taught that 'God made you and loves you' it would became an 'excluded provider'? What if the children sang songs that said 'God made us and loves us'?
  • Restriction of educational freedom and the ability to teach children to be critical thinkers: More generally, as children grow up, education involves helping them consider the evidence and think for themselves. Why are children to be prevented from hearing about and discussing differing scientific assessments of the evidence? Why is only one particular interpretation of the evidence to be presented? Who decides what is 'established scientific or historical evidence and explanations'? There remains scientific debate over these issues - why should children not be made aware of this so that they can reach their own conclusions after engaging critically with these issues? Guidance referenced by Government says that 'creationism, intelligent design and similar ideas cannot be taught as valid scientific theories'. But there are scientists who make the scientific case for approaches other than a narrow form of evolution as the sole explanation of our origin - e.g. see Truth in Science and Christians in Science). The BHA's own paper on 'creationism' has been critiqued (see here). 
  • Teaching about purpose and meaning: Children need to be taught about meaning and purpose and to have opportunity to explore such issues. Where will provision be made for this? Such questions cannot be divorced from the question of origin. These regulations risk imposing a particular ideological framework on wider aspects of a child's education.
  • The promotion of 'British values': These regulations also require the active promotion of British values. We have already raised concerns about this in relation to a previous consultation. Those concerns remain and could also be raised in your response to this consultation. You can read more here.


Please respond - and challenge this assault on educational freedom

If you are concerned by this restriction of educational freedom and the impact that it could have on Christian nurseries and schools, please respond to the Government's consultation by 5pm on Friday 17th October. 

You can do so using the links below. Comment on the definition of 'excluded early years provision' in the draft Regulations (see section 2.10 of the consultation document). You could raise some or all of the issues noted above.

 
Read the consultation document > 
See section 2.10.
Section 4 on the final page explains how to respond.

Read the draft regulations >

Respond online now >
Use Question 5 to explain your objection to what has been drafted.
For other ways to respond, see Section 4 of the consultation document.

 
You could also contact your MP about the Government's b_ehaviour. Find contact details by entering your postcode on this page >


Thank you - and please tell others

below the guidance from Christian Concern:

 

 

 

 

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