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 ACCORD 
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Joined: July 22nd, 2007, 6:34 pm
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ACCORD ---- the new inter-belief (religious and secular) campaign against religious discrimination in religious faith schools. Publicity today, more information promised on Monday 1 September. Is there a contact point yet to offer support?

Chris

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clayto


August 30th, 2008, 9:38 am
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They have a website at which you can sign up as a supporter:

http://www.accordcoalition.org.uk/

Seems a very sensible idea, jointly with the more liberal faith organisations, to try to remove the influence of organised religion from schools and replace it by a broader approach.


August 30th, 2008, 9:47 am
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See today's MediaScan (when it's published!) for more details.

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August 30th, 2008, 10:18 am
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Thanks Tuba, this is just what I wanted. I could not find it in the various media releases I searched. It looks very impressive ----- member orgs / supporters, etc.

Chris

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clayto


August 30th, 2008, 10:57 am
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The National Secular Society is unimpressed:

http://www.secularism.org.uk/thensswillcontinuetoploughitsown.html

Dan


September 2nd, 2008, 5:59 pm
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BHA Press release:
Quote:
Announcing Accord

1st September 2008

The BHA is one of the founding members of Accord – a coalition campaigning for:

· non-discriminatory admissions and employment policies in all state-funded schools

· an objective, fair and balanced syllabus for education about religious and non-religious beliefs to be pursued in all state-funded schools

· all state-funded schools to be made accountable under a single inspection regime for RE, Personal, Social and Health Education and Citizenship

· the provision of inclusive and inspiring assemblies in the place of compulsory acts of worship in all state funded schools

The current members of the coalition are: The Association of Teachers and Lecturers, The British Humanist Association, Ekklesia, Hindu Academy, The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, The Socialist Education Association, and Women Against Fundamentalism. The BHA is making a large contribution to Accord, which includes the secondment of staff member Alex Kennedy for most of each week for the rest of this year.

The coalition has already got coverage in The Times, Guardian, Independent, Independent on Sunday, Daily Express, Jewish Chronicle, Radio 4’s Today Programme, BBC TV and other media. For example see the BBC News website.

The Coalition’s homepage is http://www.accordcoalition.org.uk, where you can read more about its member organisations and high-profile supporters.

For Accord, campaigning means taking positive action to bring an end to religious discrimination in state-funded schools. Our website has several useful suggestions on how you can help:

· Sign up to register your support for Accord. The campaign will be greatly strengthened by people who do this.

· Email or write your MP to let them know that you disagree with the current religious discrimination practiced by some state-funded schools. There is a template email to help you do this on our website.

· You can also donate to Accord. The campaign relies on the generous donations of its supporters - any amount is valuable and greatly appreciated.

As the government introduces new legislation that will further increase religious discrimination in state schools, Accord believes that now is the time to make a stand for equality and fairness in state schools, and to promote the benefits that education about a diversity of beliefs can bring to the life of a child.

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September 2nd, 2008, 6:52 pm
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I listened to a piece about this new initiative on the "Sunday" programme on Radio 4 last Sunday, with the new Chair of Accord in discussion with the CofE's head of education. Unfortunately I don't think he came over terribly well, and the CofE were much better prepared. Maybe next time.


September 2nd, 2008, 9:36 pm
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tubataxidriver wrote:
Seems a very sensible idea, jointly with the more liberal faith organisations, to try to remove the influence of organised religion from schools and replace it by a broader approach.


It is a sensible idea, but it's not actually what Accord, or the British Humanist Association, stand for.

The BHA's policy is in fact to support and maintain the influence of organised religion in schools by inviting "faith communities" into schools to deliver, and I quote,
Quote:
voluntary worship, religious instruction and other "accommodations"
(http://www.humanism.org.uk/site/cms/contentViewArticle.asp?article=1207).

Dan


September 3rd, 2008, 8:28 pm
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Dan wrote:

The BHA's policy is in fact to support and maintain the influence of organised religion in schools by inviting "faith communities" into schools to deliver, and I quote,
Quote:
voluntary worship, religious instruction and other "accommodations"


A very 'out of context' statement and I hope that someone else with more knowledge on this, perhaps from the BHA, will reply.


September 4th, 2008, 6:44 am
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Well, in fairness, Dan does link to the context for us to read for ourselves. Here's the relevant paragraph:

Quote:
We want all schools to include and educate pupils of all beliefs together, so that they can learn about and from each other. Because we doubt that religious schools can contribute to social cohesion or fully recognise the rights of all their pupils, we strongly oppose Government plans to expand the number and variety of religious schools. Instead, we propose that religious schools are phased out by absorption into a reformed community school system in which the faith communities are offered facilities for voluntary worship, religious instruction and other "accommodations" in line with developing anti-discrimination law.


The BHA's education strategy is set out in a 43-page document accessed from here.

Here's an excerpt from page 10:

Quote:
We propose impartial, fair and balanced teaching about all major worldviews, including nonreligious ones, in RE, to give all children an understanding of the range of beliefs found in a multicultural society and the values shared by most religions and ethical worldviews. Renaming the subject ‘Beliefs and Values Education’ or something similar would convey inclusiveness and, if it were genuinely inclusive and impartial, there would be no need for any pupil to be excused from it – learning about the many beliefs held in our society ought to be part of every child’s entitlement and preparation for life as an adult in a plural society. More recent curricular requirements such as Citizenship education, with its aim of encouraging ‘respect for different national, religious and ethnic identities’ and legislation about racial and religious discrimination should encourage better practice and greater diversity and openness in RE. RE’s stated aim to ‘develop [the] sense of identity and belonging’ of pupils can best be achieved by its becoming more inclusive. This already occurs in the best classrooms and the best RE syllabuses, but RE provision is patchy in quality. It needs more than just guidance or a “framework” from the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority to ensure study of more than just the six ‘principal religions’, and more and better qualified teachers in order to achieve this. The danger of superficiality may be countered by proposals described in Appendix E and, for faith groups, by the next proposal. We also suggest provision for additional optional faith-based religious instruction classes on school premises, subject to demand. These confessional classes could be after school hours or as part of an options system (which should be outside the core curriculum, and could include options on the humanist worldview and/or philosophy and ethics), as long as they did not interfere with students’ educational entitlements, and could be taught by visiting religious teachers or clerics. Having such classes on school premises would improve relationships with some groups of parents and permit proper vetting, regulation and inspection, so that they conformed to minimum educational and other standards.


In short, the BHA proposal is that religious worship/instruction ceases to be compulsory and becomes an extra-curricular activity only for those who want it and will therefore be an improvement on what we've got now. The reasoning behind this proposal, as I understand it, is that no government in the foreseeable future is likely to abolish religious schools altogether but, if voluntary religious instruction is offered in all community schools, these will become more attractive to religious parents who might choose to send their children to ordinary schools instead of faith schools, thereby undermining the faith schools and achieving the aim of getting pupils of all beliefs educated together.

As threads in the PH section get archived eventually, I'll move this thread to Education but leave a shadow.


September 4th, 2008, 1:04 pm
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Thanks Maria. I did look at Dan's link and I have, of course, read it before. What I meant to say, by 'out of context', was the quoting of a small piece that gives a different impression to what is intended.


September 4th, 2008, 4:47 pm
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Thanks Maria for the fuller quote. It is a good example of how misleading extracting and quoting just a few words can be!

Chris

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clayto


September 5th, 2008, 3:30 pm
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It was no more misleading than the characterisation of ACCORD's policy as removing the influence of organised religion from schools.

That is not, in fact, the BHA's policy, which, is, as I said, about maintaining religious influence in schools. And it is not, in fact, ACCORD's policy, so far as we can tell from their rather vague website.

Dan


September 5th, 2008, 9:43 pm
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"---about maintaining religious influence in schools." Or, more correctly, accepting the reality of the fact that religious influence in schools will continue for a long time yet and doing the best we can to moderate that influence?

Chris

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clayto


September 6th, 2008, 9:45 am
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I very much agree Clayto (for once!! :laughter: ). As I see it, religion's influence will be moderated by a) not dividing kids by the religion of their parents and b) by exercising a measure of audit over the religious input going into the elective classes. To hold a 'purist' religion-free education system, which has zero chance of success for the foreseeable future, makes little sense. It makes more sense to be pragmatic and accommodating, while all the time, arguing our corner for rationality.


September 6th, 2008, 1:42 pm
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Nick ---- well I am glad we have found something to agree on!

I have read a long piece from NSS combining an attack on the Accord aims with a complaint that they were not invited to join ----- a rather daft position it seems to me. But I welcome NSS disapproval as it helps to demonstrate a difference between NSS and BHA which not everyone seems to recognise. I am not criticising their stand agains Accord either, I regard it as appropriate to their role. The role of BHA is not the same, it is not to promote secularism 'full stop' ---- but humanism which is more than secularism.

Chris

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clayto


September 6th, 2008, 2:17 pm
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I agree with the both of you. Terry sounds a bit peevish; he seems to be complaining about not being invited to join a club he wouldn't want to join anyway. I have some reservations about the BHA policy but, if successful, it would mean children no longer have to participate in compulsory religious worship or receive compulsory religious instruction. This seems more achievable than the abolition of religious schools and presenting this policy as wanting to "maintain the influence of organised religion in schools" is mendacious. The object is quite clearly to reduce that influence, as the first step on the road towards eliminating it altogether.


September 8th, 2008, 12:02 am
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clayto wrote:
"---about maintaining religious influence in schools." Or, more correctly, accepting the reality of the fact that religious influence in schools will continue for a long time yet and doing the best we can to moderate that influence?

Chris


I don't know about "more correctly", but I agree that is how those who favour the policy will tend to spin it.

Dan


September 8th, 2008, 2:07 pm
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Nick wrote:
I very much agree Clayto (for once!! :laughter: ). As I see it, religion's influence will be moderated by a) not dividing kids by the religion of their parents and b) by exercising a measure of audit over the religious input going into the elective classes. To hold a 'purist' religion-free education system, which has zero chance of success for the foreseeable future, makes little sense. It makes more sense to be pragmatic and accommodating, while all the time, arguing our corner for rationality.


I think it is possible to be both pragmatic about what is achievable while retaining a longer term goal.

It's not like the National Secular Society hasn't been campaigning to end compulsory religious observance within the existing system. Indeed, the NSS was instrumental in securing an opt out for pupils aged over 16. It didn't say, "no, we will only accept complete and utter abolition and nothing less". It went for the pragmatic approach, but without abandoning the ultimate aim.

Dan


September 8th, 2008, 2:13 pm
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Maria wrote:
I agree with the both of you. The Terry Sanderson article comes across and peevish: he seems to be complaining about not being invited to join a club he wouldn't want to join anyway. I have some reservations about the BHA policy but, if successful, it would mean children no longer have to participate in compulsory religious worship or receive compulsory religious instruction. This seems more achievable than the abolition of religious schools and presenting this policy as wanting to "maintain the influence of organised religion in schools" is mendacious. The object is quite clearly to reduce that influence, as the first step on the road towards eliminating it altogether.


I disagree. I don't think it is clear that "eliminating it altogether" is the ultimate aim. Is it? And if it is, where is this clearly stated?

Dan


September 8th, 2008, 2:15 pm
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