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Humanist and Secularist Liberal Democrats

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Education Policy - HSLD's response

April 21, 2017 2:56 PM

Immediately after Conference voted to adopt its new faith schools policy, we started work on our response to the party's more general education policy consultation.

We presented our submission just 14 days later, on 2nd April 2017.

Our response calls for democratic accountability to be returned to local communities, by giving local authorities or equivalent elected bodies strategic responsibility for the state schools in their areas and oversight of school admissions policies.

We report that the system is now heavily skewed against secular schools, because the local authorities that have traditionally been the main providers of secular schools are now excluded from opening or taking over schools. This and other factors mean that the proportion of secular schools continues to decline, even in areas that are already dominated by faith schools, and without regard for the wishes of local authorities or parents.

In order to ensure a fair balance of faith schools and secular schools, we call

Schools run by some religious organisations can be extremely hostile environments for LGBT+ pupils, with prejudice against them, and low self-esteem, being actively reinforced by the schools' teachings, and we call for an explicit commitment to improve Ofsted monitoring and action in this area.

We call for the national curriculum to be extended to all state-funded schools but to be slimmed down heavily, to be made more stable and less politicised, and to include sex and relationship education, citizenship and a broad and inclusive religious education (covering religious and non-religious belief).

In some areas, there are major problems with unregistered (and therefore illegal) schools, relating to:

We therefore call for the party to strengthen and enforce existing regulations, closing unregistered schools and where appropriate prosecuting those responsible; we also call for a legal duty on parents to register homeschooled children with their local authority.

To see our full 14-page response, click here.