Religion muscles in on a school: parents told to put up or shut up

Religion muscles in on a school: parents told to put up or shut up December 1, 2018

Warren Furman is a muscle-bound religiot who brings Christianity to schools in the UK, whether or not parents want their kids’ brains messed up by Jesus.

And a real dickhead. Image via YouTube

When Furman – once known as “Ace” in the TV show Gladiators –recently pitched up to proselytise at Burford Primary School in Nottingham, the “Gospel Gladiator” sparked a volley of complaints that were rebuffed by the headteacher and the school’s governors, who insisted that it was “appropriate that belief is presented as truth” to pupils.

Now here the thing: Burford is not a faith school.

One parent outraged by the manner in which the school has been hijacked by Christians, apparently without the consent with parents, is Lee Harris. In an op-ed for the National Secular Society, he wrote:

When we put the kids into the local primary school it was the sort of safety and close community you want for your children. We were soon both active contributors to the school. We contributed financially and my wife became pivotal in leading the PTA.

As parents we shared concerns about faith schools, particularly for children so young. We did our homework and chose Burford Primary primarily because it was a non-faith school, the only primary school in the town (and one of a minority of non-faith schools within four miles).

Within months of the children joining, we learned that the headteacher had very strong ties with the local church. It also emerged that the school – despite having a community school ethos – had joined a Christian academy trust when it became an academy in 2015. In the natural course of asking the kids how their day went, they started telling us about regular assemblies being held by the church in the school. These were led weekly by St John the Baptist Church, where the children were encouraged to participate in active prayer, where Christianity was positioned as truth and Bible stories were ‘acted out’ including beatings and crucifixion.

Naturally, we raised our concerns. The head explained that she was legally entitled to run daily worship and was simply operating within the law. This was the first alarm bell indicating she had no intention of protecting Burford’s community school ethos.

The only solution offered to the couple was to remove their children from the assemblies, which they immediately did. Before long the issues began to snowball. The school consistently chose to use the church for key events even when other options were available and in turn the church’s leaders were offered the opportunity to address the children with their message. Even at the most recent leavers’ assembly (which could have been easily held at the school grounds), St John the Baptist was allowed to host and the children were presented with a bible as their leaving gift and “guide in life”.

Wrote Harris:

Our children became increasingly excluded from assemblies and school activities. Often they were left to sit in side rooms for long extended periods of time with a teaching assistant until we came to pick them up.

More and more it felt like our children were being discriminated against. Daily activities that could help to provide an inclusive environment were being ignored. Each time the headteacher said she was serving the ‘majority’ of the children and preparing them for life in a ‘Christian country’.

A few months ago, the straw came that was to break the camel’s back. The headteacher had agreed with St John’s to invite Warren Furman in to see the children. The headteacher did not research Warren Furman. She simply took the recommendation of her church. No policies were followed and no parent was informed. Our children were also told to attend.

It was, on every conceivable level, unprofessional conduct on the head’s part and testimony that the school’s non-faith ethos was non-existent.

He added:

At this point, we’d had enough. With the headteacher ignoring her responsibilities to the school and openly disregarding the rights of the parents, our only option was to take our concerns to the governors.

We knew before the meeting what the outcome would be. The two independent governors apparently have close ties with the church involved. We may as well have asked Jesus to be the chair.

At the meeting they had asked for three things.

• Firstly, for the school to justify its policy of collective worship, and specifically for assemblies led by the church to stop.

• Secondly for key events to be led by a teacher and not a member of the church, allowing all of the children to be included.

• Lastly, for the school to maintain its non-faith ethos (in line with its legally binding funding agreement) and in turn prevent discrimination to children with different or no religious belief.

The requests were all dismissed.

The panel ruled that:

Acts of worship are not lessons or educational experiences, they are worship and as such it is appropriate that belief is presented as truth.

Harris revealed that six sets of parents have now removed their children from the assemblies held by the church, as the stories of the biblical re-enactments have begun to leak out from the children. He said:

The daughter of a close friend who had witnessed domestic abuse left in tears after watching a reconstruction of a woman being beaten in a biblical story.

In truth, we need more parents to speak out in Burford Primary if we stand any chance of protecting its community school ethos. I lose track of the number of mums and dads who say to me they don’t agree with the church’s involvement but won’t remove them out of fear of their children being excluded. The fact they are forced to make that choice is ridiculous in a non-faith school.

We have since removed our personal contribution to the school and my wife has stepped down as the head of the PTA, saying she can’t knowingly fulfil a role when her kids are being discriminated against. We’re now taking our concerns to the Department for Education.

If my children were for example Muslim or Jewish, one would hope that the headteacher would ensure their beliefs were protected and included. But there are no such rights for those with no belief in Burford Primary School.

We love our historically medieval town. It’s just a shame that the thinking of those charged with our children’s care is similarly outdated.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Jim Jones

    A complaint to the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) is in order.

  • Raging Bee

    Wow, that’s just flat-out bullying, plain and simple(minded). Sounds like it’s time for a “Reoccupy Secular Schools” movement. This is an act of aggression, and some form of direct action is an appropriate response.

  • Raging Bee

    I don’t wanna be stereotyping, but that Christian muscle-boy looks gayer than George Takei.

  • Broga

    Who funds the schools? The parents need to make a few things very clear. The first being that they don’t want this muscle bound posturing twat near their kids. Threats to local councillors voter support concentrates the mind e.g. Members of the Education Committee. Perhaps a group visit to County Hall.

  • Brianna LaPoint

    I was told by a Welsh friend that kind of thing is normal in Britain. Any one that is British that tells me they dont have a Christian problem like we do in the US can stuff it. I know they do, ive heard horror stories about it.

  • John Dowdle

    The primary school joined a christian academy trust in 2015. That means that local councillors have no say over the affairs of the school.
    This is but a very small part of the religionisation of the British schools system which the CofE has been promoting to central government.
    The trend will continue indefinitely until the British school system is fully religionised. Welcome to Third World Britain.

  • Vanity Unfair

    (1) http://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN07059/SN07059.pdf
    (2) http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-7167
    (3) https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/academy-sponsor-contact-list
    http://www.burfordprimaryandnursery.co.uk/governance-and-transform-links/

    Academy schools are established only in England. The Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish wot not of them. That’s how popular they are with other governments in the “United” Kingdom.
    (1) p. 7 The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) is a DfE executive agency that funds open academies and free schools, and monitors finances and governance. However, these schools’ revenue funding allocations are currently determined in large part by the local authority’s locally-determined funding formula.

    Clear? Not to me. However, it is probable that a trip to County Hall might not be the answer.
    Academies are independent of local government and are overseen by a Regional School Commissioner (eight in total), the Education and Skills Funding Agency (an Executive Agency of the DfE) and inspected by OFSTED. So that is to whom to complain. Don’t ask which one.

    (2) RE provision, though not attendance, is compulsory: p. 7
    a) provision must be made for religious education to be given to all pupils at the Academy in accordance with the requirements for agreed syllabuses in section 375(3) of the Education Act 1996 and paragraph 2(5) of Schedule 19 to the School Standards and Framework Act 1998;
    b) the Academy must comply with section 70(1) of, and Schedule 20 to, the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 as if it were a community, foundation or voluntary school which does not have a religious character, except that paragraph 4 of that Schedule does not apply. The Academy may apply to the Secretary of State for consent to be relieved of the requirement imposed by paragraph 3(2) of that Schedule.

    (3) Burford Primary School is sponsored by Transform Trust Ltd, which is, according to the official list, a charity. So you might have to complain to the Charities Commission as well.

    The official sources describe how to convert to an Academy and when forced conversion can be mandated but there seems to be no way to leave. That somehow seems familiar.
    There is one thread running through this; the only organisation that cannot be trusted to run a school is a local authority.

  • that meathead looks so gay that it literally makes Liberace look straight.