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Dawkins and Free Schools

It has widely been reported that Richard Dawkins may be thinking of setting up – or help set-up – one of the Coalition Government’s new Free Schools.

Whatever else one thinks of the Free Schools idea, secular groups setting up “free-thinking” schools is interesting because the Tories (promoters of Free Schools) are enthusiastic supporters of faith schools, the Established Church, etc. It may not be what they intended; most secularists up ’til now have worried that Free Schools will lead to an increase in religious bodies controlling schools.

It will also be interesting to know if such Free Schools can ditch collective worship. I read that they will be free from the National Curriculum but – as I understand it – collective worship is not part of the National Curriculum but is statutory.

  1. Stonyground
    25/06/2010 at 6:43 pm

    The subject of setting up secular schools came up in the letters section of the NSS e-newsletter a couple of years ago. As reflected in the various opinions that were expressed, secularists are left with a dilemma when it comes to the subject of sectarian schools. On the one hand, most secularists are opposed to dividing children up on religious grounds in the first place, personally I think that it is simply wrong, as well as having endless negative consequences. On the other hand we are faced with schools that owe their success almost entirely to the cherry picking that goes on in their admissions process claiming that their religious “ethos” should get the credit. I am pretty sure that a non-religion school would shoot down that claim and also the claim that religious schools are what parents want.

    On the subject of collective worship “of a broadly Christian character”, the school could request an opt out and if that was refused I can think of a couple of options. One is to make the act of collective worship only a few seconds long while making it very clear that the process was solely there to comply with the law. The other option would be to treat the whole thing in a pythonesque way with the ‘Ooh Lord you are so big’ prayer and hymns like ‘Oh Lord Please Don’t Burn Us’ and ‘All Things Dull And Ugly’

  1. 19/07/2010 at 12:23 pm

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