Cynical ploy to impose religion

5th March 2004 at 00:00
The Church of England is in financial difficulties - its support has been dwindling for 70 years, and it appears to be on the verge of schism. I suspect that the reason it wants to play a leading role in the burgeoning academy programme (TES, February 20) is that it sees expansion in education as the alternative to extinction.

What religious group could resist gaining control of a school for no revenue costs and only 10 per cent of the capital cost? The C of E has achieved control of some schools without even paying the 10 per cent, such as where they have found sponsors such as the community action charity, Toc H.

So why is the Government seeking out the unelected and unaccountable C of E for this role? It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the whole academy programme, with its direct government funding, was specifically designed to favour religious groups to the detriment of local authorities.

The Government seems determined to impose religion on our schools at any cost. But should it not reflect that a major study showed nearly 60 per cent of children describe themselves as atheist or agnostic, and that multi-cultural inner cities need schools that unite communities, not emphasise their differences?

Keith Porteous Wood

Executive director

National Secular Society

25 Red Lion Square

London WC1

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