Christian Schools in Britain Raise Questions of Curriculum

(Photo: Balraj Gill, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Balraj Gill, Creative Commons)

According to alumni, Christian fundamentalist schools in Britain are teaching controversial ideas like creationism, homophobia, and anti-feminism and use teaching styles that may impede learning.

They have said that teachers said that it is "unnatural" to be queer and that women should be subservient to men.

One textbook reportedly used by the schools includes this definition:

Homosexual, adjective: having unnatural sexual feelings towards one of the same sex… Homosexual activity is another of man's corruptions of God's plan.

Another textbook has this to say about the role of women:

The husband is to be the leaders of the home, loving his wife even as Christ loved the church… The wife is to obey, respect, and submit to the leadership of her husband, serving as a helper to him.

Textbooks also state that evolution is "absurd" and that the idea that humans and primates share a common ancestor is untrue and "unscientific." Instead, they favor the Creationist viewpoint that the world was created in six days and that the sun is only six thousand years old, reports Samantha Finch of the Parent Herald. According to one former pupil, this argument was a "fundamental building block of the curriculum."

However, photographs showing the inside these schools are rare, and these allegations have not yet been proven. A former student said:

No one outside these schools knows about what happens inside them, that's why they've been able to go on like this for so long.

These Christian schools, called ACE or Accelerated Christian Education, originated in Baptist-heavy southern US states. Dozens of these schools have appeared throughout England, and they are thought to teach more than a thousand children aged four through 18, reports Bobby Rae of Pink News.

At these schools, students read silently at desks separated from other students with dividers for the first half of the day, in accordance with a belief in self-salvation. For the second half of the day, the children are taught in groups. Former students say that this was particularly challenging for students with learning difficulties like dyslexia. Many said that they felt isolated in the booths and had no chance to develop social skills, reports Siobhan Fenton of the Independent.

These schools give no formal qualifications like GCSEs or A-levels, or diplomas. Rather, they work towards an International Certificate of Christian Education, which is not an officially recognized qualification.

Graduates tend to be unprepared for employment or further education. Forty UK universities were asked whether they would accept students with these ICCEs alone, and all of them said that they would not.

Dr. Matthew Pocock, who attended one of these schools in Witney, Oxfordshire when he was a child, said:

We sat at our desks which were arranged around the outside of the room, with boards that slid in called "dividers" that sectioned us off from the pupil on either side. We were not allowed to talk or interact with each other.

A spokesperson from Ofsted said that they inspect at the request of the Department for Education, and while schools are not required to follow the national curriculum, they are required to teach respect for others.

According to the Press Trust of India for the Business Standard, a spokesperson from the Department for Education said that if a school is failing to meet the Independent School Standards, the department "will not hesitate to take action."

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