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Reverend's mission to transform schools

The Oasis Trust, the Christian organisation behind the academy proposed for Immingham, was set up by the Reverend Steve Chalke in 1985 as a charity to run a centre for the homeless.

It appears to been transformed since then, and is now involved in "mission, healthcare, education and housing initiatives in the UK and across the globe", its website says. Among its patrons are Diane Louise Jordan, a former Blue Peter presenter, while it lists Liberal Democrat president Simon Hughes as sitting on its council.

It has already announced plans to sponsor three academies: one in Enfield, north London, and another not far from Immingham in Grimsby.

Mr Chalke, a Baptist minister, set a world sponsorship record after raising pound;1.25 million for Oasis to spend on the academies when he ran the London marathon last month.

He told The TES he did not believe the world was created in seven days, and says the new schools will not teach creationism in science.

Mr Chalke said a consultancy set up nine months ago by an offshoot of the trust to advise would-be Christian sponsors of academies, was proving a success. The Faithworks academies service had advised 10 groups interested in academy sponsorship, half of which were from religious backgrounds, he said. Advice was offered free.

This suggests that the number of religious sponsors of academies will grow.

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