Council Plans Force Children In To Faith Schools Say National Secular Society

Parents of pupils at Weston Primary are fighting to keep a non-religious primary school in West Wight

In the battle to save Weston Primary School, this release in from the National Secular Society (NSS). Ed

SOS Weston Community SchoolThe NSS has backed a local campaign to save the only non-religious school in the west of the Isle of Wight.

Isle of Wight Council is planning to shut Weston Primary, the only community school in a twelve mile radius, because of a surplus of places, leaving two faith schools open. Only 7.5% of Weston parents would be happy to send their children to them.

Jeremy Cangialosi, who has three children at Weston, told the NSS, “It’s the only community school in the whole area – so it would mean a complete loss of non-faith schooling and would force parents to send their children to religious schools.”

Ofsted has judged standards at Weston Primary to be significantly higher than the two faith schools also considered for closure.

Council made aware of implications
The NSS has written to the Council pointing out the legal implications of reducing diversity of provision and denying parents the choice to send their children to a non-faith school.

The Council and Church of England Diocese of Portsmouth said they will support the change of All Saints Primary from a voluntary controlled school to a trust school. This may enable greater local community representation on the board of governors but does nothing to affect the school’s religious character.

Community school in all but name?
The Church of England has made clear its intention to ensure their religious ethos flows through all school subjects. The latest Church of England inspection report for All Saints Primary quotes pupils saying “We think about Jesus a lot”.

This contradicts the claim made by the Chair of Governors that “All Saints is a community school in all but name”.

The NSS has also raised concerns that information published by the Council may have misled those responding to the school closure consultation.

Statutory guidance on the closure of maintained schools states that it should not unreasonably extend journey times or increase transport costs. However, a survey of local parents with children at Weston found that 37.5% said they would either have to relocate, home school or travel to Newport, some 12 miles away.

Stephen Evans, Campaigns Manager at the National Secular Society commented, “It is clear that the closure of the only community school in the area will cause real and significant hardship to parents who are not prepared to have their children taught in a school with a religious ethos.”

“The strength with which many non-religious parents hold such convictions should not be underestimated.”

Special protection for faith schools
To justify closing the sole community school in the area, Isle of Wight Council have cited statutory guidance that gives faith schools special protections. It states that decision-makers “should not normally approve the closure of a school with a religious character where the proposal would result in a reduction in the proportion of denominational places in the area.”

Stephen Evans commented, “The guidance clearly does not rule out the closure of such schools. This is not a ‘normal’ situation as the closure of Weston would completely eradicate primary school provision for the non-religious – and all other non-Christians in the area.

“Again we see an excellent community school being sacrificed so that faith schools are protected – and again it is the non-religious who lose out. The closure of Weston school would effectively force children into religious schools and that is simply unacceptable.”

Image: © Jeremy Cangialosi

Opinion Piece

Wednesday, 3rd August, 2011 9:56am



Filed under: Budget Cuts, Isle of Wight Council, Isle of Wight Opinion Pieces, School Reform, Totland, West Wight

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24 Comments on "Council Plans Force Children In To Faith Schools Say National Secular Society"

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Presumably children at Community schools do not celebrate Christmas!

Victor Meldrew

The Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Pagan and other alternative faiths don’t, just as I don’t celebrate Diwahla. It’s about choice!


why..what has christmas got to do with christianity


I thought this was quite simple but, just so as we are clear….From the bbc schools website :
Christmas is celebrated on the 25 December.
Christmas is a Christian holy day that marks the birth of Jesus who Christians believe to be the Son of God.

A Man

Do you believe everything you read online ;-)

Barney McGrew

I don’t know about the Isle of Wight being stuck in the 1950s but this smacks of a return to Caedwalla and 686 but without the gratuitous bloodshed.

adrian nicholas
this has been the case for many years and has suited maintainence of personal placement establishment patronage and acceptence culture within the education system – whereby secular parents have no real choice given area allocation and resource performance. Such are the imbeddded mechanisms of advantaged vested power networks that determine or maintain social and economic control both locally and nationally. The recent attempts by the establishment and… Read more »

resistance is futule, thou shalt obey…

Victor: I have a feeling that most children at this particular community school do celebrate Christmas and Easter. If they are non faith, then surely they shouldnt. If they celebrate Christmas and Easter shouldnt they go to a church school? The argument is that the school shouldnt be shut because it will mean that only “Jesus led” schools will be left open, yet surely by celebrating Christmas… Read more »

whats christian about christmas and Eostre ( from the pagan goddess of that name)

There should be no religious schools…religion is a matter of personal choice..not educational brainwash

Loo Loo

In their desperate attempt to save money, this Tory Council are slowly destroying the Island’s school system and don’t seem to care a less about failing children’s education.


If the Council leaders were to be marked on competance and ability, they would score 0/10.


be interesting to see what High School these parents send their children to, they are objecting at the moment, but whats the betting that in a couple of years time SOME of them will have no problem putting CTKC for the high school selection rather than the non faith carisbrooke!!!


It seems that many parents want the ethos of a faith school without the religion.But I’m afraid it’s a package deal.


I am Green, with Liberal tendencies, and yet I am forced to be represented by a Conservative MP and a Conservative County Council – not my choice. Life is so unfair!

Hayley I totally agree with you there. haha! And NO 5, You may not have been “educationally brainwashed” like the rest of us, but if you do not yet understand the link between Christmas/Easter and Christianity then you havent been educated at all! And do you seriously think that every child coming out of a religious school ends up as a believer? We all make our own… Read more »
It’s nonsense for anyone to suggest that celebrating Christmas means accepting the dogmas of Christianity. Most scholars agree for a date of Christ’s birth either in September or April (for instance, there were supposed to be sheep around in the fields, and these were all kept indoors for several months during the winter). The choice of Dec 25 was made at the Council of Nicaea in 325,… Read more »

Stop shoving your opinions down everyones necks then you hypocrite! How dare you refer to other peoples beliefs as fairy stories, as a believer in something yourself you should understand the importance of having a faith, and I would certainly not offend you by saying that your own beliefs are made up, how dare you!


Oh dear, mmm, you really have an anger management problem. Sorry, I’m a non-believer, and I don’t believe in faith schools. If you want to teach Moral Philosophy, there are ways of doing it without resort to religious dogmas. If you have any evidence that Jesus was a god, the world is waiting to hear from you.

Quote – BBC Website – Paganism encompasses a diverse community with some groups concentrating on specific traditions, practices or elements such as ecology, witchcraft, Celtic traditions or certain gods. Wiccans, Druids, Shamans, Sacred Ecologists, Odinists and Heathens all make up parts of the Pagan community. Watchdog – Are you saying that Pagans who send Winter solstice cards like yourself are not religious? That you do not have… Read more »
I would be horrified to be classed as a Pagan, which so far as I understand it, means subscribing to various ideas of the occult (not much difference in that respect from Christianity and other religions). Sending a card saying “Happy Winter Solstice” is only a bit of fun to keep in touch with friends who expect some kind of greeting around that time of the year.… Read more »
At the end of the day we all have choices to believe or not to believe. I agree with you, the idea of anything existing beyond the compounds of our world is highly unlikely, however I would like my children to have some hope and belief that we will all meet again. I understand you feel as though children are brainwashed in faith schools, but as a… Read more »

We really need to stop having ‘religious’ schools. Yes teach the kids about different faiths and about atheism but let them make religious choices when they’re an adult.

whats wrong with having a choice, isn’t this what this article is about, keeping the non faith school so people can have a choice!!! I sent my child to a non faith school and I’m sorry but to me a little religion in a child’s schooling doesn’t hurt, I was taught about God, knew the lords prayer and we also had a couple of hymns in our… Read more »