Academy asks 'did God stop Hitler?'

23rd July 2004 at 01:00
Unions and parents condemn school's evangelical interpretation of the curriculum. William Stewart reports

History lessons should consider if England escaped invasion by Hitler because of an act of God, a state school sponsored by Christian fundamentalists has said.

The statement is included in a curriculum document published by Emmanuel college in Gateshead, sponsored by the Vardy Foundation, which is seeking to open seven state-funded secondaries using the Government's expanding academy scheme.

The document, which says that Christianity and Biblical truth must play a vital part in the teaching of the whole curriculum, has been condemned by teaching unions as "indoctrination".

And the foundation, sponsored by millionaire car dealer and Christian evangelist Sir Peter Vardy, came in for further criticism this week as The TES learned that permanent exclusion rates at its other school, the King's Academy in Middlesbrough, are more than 10 times the national average.

The document entitled Christianity and Curriculum was published on the website of Emmanuel college, a city technology college, but has now been been removed. Campaigners trying to stop the foundation opening an academy in Doncaster, claim this has happened within the last fortnight after they quoted the document during a consultation meeting on the proposed school.

The history section states the importance of using a "frame of reference in which God is sovereign".

"In this context it becomes important to peruse why Hitler paused at the English Channel when an immediate invasion might have led to a swift victory," it says. "Could it be that God was calling a halt to this march of evil?"

A spokeswoman for the foundation said the document had been taken off the website as part of a redesign. She said the foundation stood by its content, which also stated that some music is "overtly and unashamedly satanic in inspiration" and can become "the medium of destruction". A section on science reads: "The study of science is not an end in itself but a glimpse into the rational and powerful hand of the Almighty."

Mary Bousted, Association of Teachers and Lecturers general secretary, said: "Clearly what is going on is indoctrination."

Emmanuel has been the subject of controversy since 2002 when it emerged creationism was being taught alongside evolutionary theory. The furore led to Tony Blair intervening to defend the school.

Tracey Morton, a campaigner against a Vardy academy to replace Northcliffe school in Conisbrough, said: "It is almost unbelievable that our education authority would hand over a schools to people with these beliefs."

Meanwhile, The TES has learned that during its first year in 20034, King's academy permantently excluded 26 of its 1,034 pupils: a 2.51 per cent rate compared with an English average of 0.23 per cent in 20023.

A spokewoman for the foundation said: "We say those that misbehave exclude themselves."

But Steve Sinnott, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said the rate was "unacceptably high". Dr Bousted said she had written to the Government to express her grave concern on the issue.

THE CURRICULUM ACCORDING TO EMMANUEL

Art Students should be directed away from the destructive images that characterise much of contemporary art towards what is described Biblically as "True, pure, lovely and of good report".

Geography "Cynicism towards foreign aid often leads to every overseas contract being scrutinised for 'back-handers' and suggests that independence from colonial influence is a wholly 'good thing' regardless of the harsh realities of the 'liberating regime'."

Religious education "A personal faith is just that, it is not appropriate for students to seek to 'put themselves into the shoes' of those holding different views or to enter into their perceived feelings."

Modern languages "Although many aspects of different lifestyles are acceptable, the moral and ethical value systems across the world cannot be similarly 'glossed' as being equally valid as, for example, the very nature of Christianity stipulates its unique claim to being the only ultimate truth."

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