What Is Accelerated Christian Education?

This blog exists, in part, to expose the activities of Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) in the UK. Since you have probably never heard of it, here’s an introduction.

Accelerated Christian Eduction is a fundamentalist curriculum from Texas, distributed in the UK by Christian Education Europe (CEE). There are approximately 2,000 students of ACE in the UK, including homeschoolers. ACE students work in silence in “offices” that Ofsted describes as “rather like a modern version of a monk’s cell in a medieval monastery.” Students are not allowed to turn around, talk, or move without permission, which they gain by raising a flag to get a supervisor’s attention. ACE students complete PACEs (Packets of Accelerated Christian Education), a prescribed series of workbooks.

Official ACE literature says “students are taught to see life from God’s point of view.” Religious instruction is not a separate subject: “Biblical principles and concepts are interwoven into all aspects of the curriculum [citation].” In English, for example, students are given examples of interrogative sentences [source]: “Do you know Jesus as your personal Saviour? Can you ever praise Him enough?” and asked to underline the correct verb in a sentence like “Jesus (is, are) good.”

Seeing “God’s point of view” extends to politics, where students are taught that God’s views are right-wing, and left-wing ideas are therefore evil and godless (Cited in Teaching Redemptively by Donovan Graham, p. 14. I also have PACEs which say this). Students are taught as fact that government healthcare and benefits are not God’s will: “God’s plan is for these needs to be met first by family members, and then by local churches, but not by government programs.” (Social Studies PACE 1094, p. 7. Also cited here.)

Students working in their offices at an ACE school.

Of course, ACE is relentlessly Creationist. Their scope and sequence mentions Creationism multiple times, and Creationist “evidences” are included in virtually every PACE. Here’s their science curriculum overview for PACEs 85-96 (intended for year 9 level students): “These earth science PACEs introduce specific areas of study such as astronomy, volcanology, topography, oceanography, meteorology, and mineralogy with proofs of the Creation. Students learn about the perfection of God’s design for the universe.” Evolution is constantly ridiculed as “impossible” and a “sinking ship,” (Science 1107 p. 24).

So now you know.

Cartoon from an ACE PACE

PACEs have cartoons like this on most pages. Sometimes they are used to teach academic rules. Other times, as here, they teach how Godly children must behave.

Ofsted’s Guidance

This is what Ofsted, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Schools, says in their September 2011 document “Types of Independent Schools.

15. Accelerated Christian Education is a system promoted by an international organisation based in the USA known as the ‘School of Tomorrow’, and its aim is to provide ‘a God-centred curriculum’. There is an Accelerated Christian Education headquarters in the United Kingdom in Swindon, called ‘Christian Education Europe’. The organisation does not itself own or maintain schools, but it provides materials for use in institutions which subscribe to its philosophy. These schools operate a non-standard curriculum, delivered in a very distinctive  way which many inspectors will find unusual. There is no specific dress code that inspectors need to adhere to.

16. Among the distinctive features of the school are as follows:

An individualised learning style that makes use of printed packages of materials known as PACES (Packages of Accelerated Christian Education), which are intended to ensure that pupils can advance at their own speed rather than as part of a year group. Pupils are expected to complete 12 PACES per year per subject. There are pre-school PACES available for the Early Years Foundation Stage and this is mapped to the Early Years Foundation Stage early learning goals. A table showing the relationship to the equivalent English NC years is available in schools and this provides a useful guide to age-related expectations. Pupils in year 1 follow the PACES ABC’s. Then the full curriculum starts in Year 2, with PACES 1001 to 1012.

The use of an examination called the ‘International Christian Certificate of Education’ in place of GCSE, AS or A levels. These start at PACES level 1085. These are not recognised qualifications but they are listed on the National Framework and range form Foundation to level 3.

ACE schools normally revolve around the ‘learning centre’, of which there may be more than one in a school. The learning centre is usually a large room which has ‘offices’ around its walls. These are rather like a modern version of a monk’s cell in a medieval monastery, and are where pupils work for most of the day. There is a supervisor’s desk, a scoring station where pupils can mark their own work at regular intervals, and a table for the tests which must be done at the end of each unit of work. Adults do not have the title of teacher, but there are ‘supervisors’, who are responsible for answering pupils’ questions, and other adults known as ‘monitors’ who have received training from Christian Education Europe and who participate in regular in-service training. Teachers also have access to a manual, which provides considerable details about the Accelerated Christian Education course and how it is implemented and managed.

Accelerated Christian Education schools have a compulsory core curriculum of five subjects: English, word building (formal grammar), mathematics, social studies (history and geography) and science. There are also optional PACES available in additional subjects such as Spanish, and at secondaryage level there are a number of ‘elective’ subjects which pupils can choose.

Pupils work at their own speed through the PACES in the main curriculum areas, but they are expected to plan their own work each day by setting themselves goals in terms of the number of pages that they aim to complete. In case of difficulty they are able to ask for help from adults by raising a flag on their learning station. At frequent intervals, pupils mark (‘score’) their own work, and at the end of each unit of work there is a supervised test in which they must achieve a score of 80% before they can move on to the next PACE. Pupils who fail to get a satisfactory grade have to re-take the unit. There are very few opportunities for pupils to write at length or for a range of purposes, and when creative writing is undertaken it often follows the distinctive language style and beliefs of the materials. In addition to the PACES, there are structured video programmes available to support some work, particularly in early reading and science.

Not all schools follow the Accelerate Christian Education system completely. Some of the longer established schools have modified the system and will, for example, teach some lessons in a conventional way and enter pupils for public examinations. You may find that teaching appears to be weaker in these subjects because teachers do not have the experience to set clear learning objectives or sequence tasks. Pupils enjoy the interaction but may not always have the self-discipline to manage their behaviour in these more relaxed lessons.

The PACES were originally written so that they could be used by children who are being schooled at home, and it is not uncommon to find such children attending Accelerated Christian Education schools two or three days a week.

17. An important feature of Accelerated Christian Education schools is preparing for the Annual Convention, which takes place in July near Oswestry. In the weeks before this, pupils will spend a lot of time preparing for competitions which cover such areas as public speaking and sporting events.

18. One area in Accelerated Christian Education schools which may be controversial is the International Christian Certificate of Education. This is used to measure the achievement of older pupils who have successfully completed a given number of PACES in the core and optional subjects that they have studied. This certificate is not officially recognised in the United Kingdom, although individuals and institutions have sometimes recognised it as adequate evidence of achievement. It is important that schools should point out that the International Christian Certificate of Education is a non-standard qualification whose acceptability depends on the individuals or institutions concerned.

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