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Over two thirds concerned that Academies Bill will use public money to promote religion

July 15, 2010 3:21 PM

A new ICM poll commissioned by the BHA has found that 72% of the public are concerned that the Academies Bill could lead to taxpayers' money being used to promote religion.

The figure includes over a third (35%) of the public who said that they were "very concerned". The poll also found that 67% think religious Academies should be required to teach pupils about other beliefs, including non-religious ones.

The poll is released ahead of the Bill's "second reading" in the House of Commons on Monday 19th July and follows the government's acknowledgement in the Lords last week that there is a risk that creationism could be taught in religious Academies.

Over 300 'faith schools', including a small number of fee-paying schools, have registered their interest in converting to Academy status. Religious Academies created as a result of the Bill would be free from local authority control, allowing them to set their own admissions and employment policies and change the lengths of terms and school days. The Bill as it stands would not require these new Academies to follow the national curriculum.

BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson said: "These results demonstrate that a majority of the public share our concerns about religious Academies. The message from this poll is very clear - there is no public appetite to increase the power and influence of religious groups in our schools. The state-funded education system should not be viewed or used as a vehicle for religious organisations to promote their beliefs."

"Time and time again parents tell us that they want an inclusive local community school for their children. By rushing this Bill through Parliament the governments risks giving religious groups, some of whom hold extreme views, a permanent foothold in our education system. We urge the government to respond to this high level of public concern by amending the Bill to include greater safeguards against undue religious influence."

Read the full results of the poll at http://www.humanism.org.uk/_uploads/documents/BHAICMpollonreligiousAcademies.pdf.

Read the BHA's briefing for the Commons Second Reading of the Academies Bill at http://www.humanism.org.uk/_uploads/documents/BHABriefing-AcademiesBillCommons2ndReading-07-10.pdf