I attended Emmanuel college for seven years, as did my brother and sister.
Neither I nor my family are religious, and we do not believe in creationism.
Emmanuel teaches Darwinism in biology while, in RE, I was taught from a Christian perspective. Pupils are in no way forced to believe that God created the world in seven days - quite honestly, in this day and age, are there many who would?
I was taught ideas from both perspectives, and it was my decision to believe what I wanted - a far cry from the image painted by one newspaper, which claimed pupils were brainwashed into believing in God. My old school friends and I laughed at that!
Quite frankly, in all the uproar from the press, local and national, I have never heard of any of the parents, pupils or staff having any problems with the school's ethos. That is why I simply do not understand why the college is constantly criticised.
Emmanuel is one of the highest-achieving schools in the country, and if I hadn't been a pupil there, I wouldn't be where I am today. Instead of criticism, we should be giving praise to good schools.
I speak with first-hand experience of the school - I wonder how many of those who complain about it could say the same? I suggest those with doubts speak to parents and pupils: you might realise there is nothing cult-like or sinister about the college, or Peter Vardy. I'm proud of my old school and grateful to have been a student there.
Flat 3, Rob Roy House
4 Rob Roy Avenue