The British Humanist Association (BHA) has today expressed concern over a Free School that opened this September which the BHA has discovered is run by a group that also runs a private school that is part of the creationist Christian Schools’ Trust network. Tyndale Community School is run jointly by Oxfordshire Community Churches, who runs the private school, and Chapel St, an organisation that is founded mainly by staff who formerly worked for the Salvation Army – whose attitude towards homosexuality are an additional source of concern for the BHA.
Oxfordshire Community Churches also runs The King’s School in Witney, a private Christian school which is a member of the Christian Schools’ Trust. Until recently a core team member of the CST is creationist Sylvia Baker, author of Bone of Contention, and a number of CST schools have proposed to become Free Schools (all have been rejected). The CST has a statement explaining that the organisation is creationist and recommending the teaching of creationism in its member schools.
Chapel St currently runs two Free Schools and an Academy, of which Tyndale is one, has Government backing to open three more, and is proposing a seventh. It is a Christian organisation founded mainly by staff who formerly worked for ALOVE, the youth outreach arm of the Salvation Army. Dr Russell Rook, CEO of Chapel St, is a former Director of ALOVE; Adrian Gosling and Phil Ball work for both organisations; and Janet Miles, Development Director for Chapel St, formerly worked in marketing and communications for the Salvation Army and launched the ALOVE brand. The Salvation Army’s mission statement on homosexuality, which employees are required to uphold, requires homosexuals to lead celibate lives.
Atherton Community School opened as a state-funded Free School in September 2012, and Tyndale Community School opened in September 2013. Despite this, the schools are not Community schools – a legal term referring to a form of maintained school which does not have a religious character – but are in fact ‘faith’ schools, legally designated as Christian. The BHA complained to the Government about the misleading nature of the schools’ names, but the Government replied saying ‘Free Schools have the freedom to choose the name of their school. We do not dictate to schools what they can or cannot choose.’
BHA Faith Schools Campaigner Richy Thompson commented, ‘The proposers of Tyndale Community School will have assured the Government that the school will not teach creationist views. But it is nonetheless seriously concerning to see they’re also running a private school that is part of a creationist network. We do not think it is appropriate for such a group to run a state school.’
For further comment or information, please contact Richy Thompson on 020 7324 3072.
Read the ‘Teach evolution, not creationism!’ statement from scientists including Sir David Attenborough, Professor Richard Dawkins, Sir Paul Nurse and Professor Michael Reiss, the British Humanist Association, the Association for Science Education, the British Science Association, the Campaign for Science and Engineering and Ekklesia at http://evolutionnotcreationism.org.uk/
Read the press release at the launch of the ‘Teach evolution, not creationism!’ statement: https://humanists.uk/news/view/895
Read more about the BHA’s campaigns work on countering creationism: https://humanists.uk/campaigns/religion-and-schools/countering-creationism
The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.