Tag Archives: education

Ep 28: RE in Wales: a chance for fundamental change



How much progress will the Welsh government make with its proposed reforms to RE? In this episode, Emma Park speaks to Stephen Evans, CEO of the NSS, and Alastair Lichten, head of education, for an update.

Encouragingly the subject’s name is to be changed to ‘Religion, Values and Ethics’, to reflect a more pluralistic and critical approach. But the proposed abolition of parents’ right to withdraw their children is more concerning. Faith schools will still be able to teach RVE ‘in line with the tenets of their faith’, but will be obliged to offer a secular alternative if parents expressly choose it.

Do these proposals go far enough? And should religious education continue to be a separate subject that is compulsory for all students up until 16? Join Emma and her guests for comment and analysis.

Follow Emma on Twitter: @DrEmmaPark

Watch this episode on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gD2syE26heQ&feature=youtu.be

Transcripts: https://www.secularism.org.uk/transcripts

Notes

NSS response to RVE proposals in Wales: https://www.secularism.org.uk/21st-century-re-for-all/rve-wales.html

Will Wales lead the way in reforming RE? – Stephen Evans, 2 June 2020: https://medium.com/@stephen.evans_42820/will-wales-lead-the-way-in-reforming-re-415cf3049fa6

Should lessons on sex and religion take parents’ wishes into account? –– Emma Park, 12 March 2020: https://life.spectator.co.uk/articles/should-lessons-on-sex-and-religion-take-parents-wishes-into-account/

NSS podcast, Episode 17: RE in Wales: https://www.secularism.org.uk/podcast/2019/10/ep-17-thought-for-the-day-re-in-wales

Make a stand for freedom, fairness and human rights by adding your voice to the call for a secular democracy. Join the National Secular Society today https://www.secularism.org.uk/join

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Ep 27: Unregistered (illegal) schools



In this episode, Emma Park discusses unregistered faith schools, particularly in the Hasidic community with Eve Sacks, a member of the Jewish anti-extremist organisation Nahamu.

Eve has spent years engaging with members of the ultra-orthodox community in London. They discuss issues in registered independent schools and the prevalence of unregistered schools where boys aged 13 to 18 are sent to receive religious instruction with little or no secular education. There is also evidence that boys who do not perform well in their studies receive corporal punishment. The result is that they leave school utterly unequipped to participate in civil society.

Efforts to tackle these ‘schools’ and similar abuses of children’s rights in the registered independent sector have been slow going, while members of the Hasidic community who want a different education for their children often experience severe pressure to conform.

After the interview, Emma speaks to Alastair Lichten, head of education at the NSS, to reflect on the fascinating insights provided by Eve, and the NSS’s position on unregistered and faith schools.

Watch this episode on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Nb4LRNtk1o&feature=youtu.be

Transcripts: https://www.secularism.org.uk/transcripts

Notes

NSS supports plans to regulate unregistered schools: https://www.secularism.org.uk/news/2020/05/nss-supports-plans-to-regulate-unregistered-schools

Corporal punishment still being used in Orthodox Jewish schools, inquiry hears – Telegraph, 21st May 2020: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/05/21/corporal-punishment-still-used-orthodox-jewish-schools-inquiry/

‘The Missing?’ by Eve Sacks, 11 July 2019: http://nahamu.org/the-missing/

Illegal Faith Schools: https://www.secularism.org.uk/unregistered-schools/

Make a stand for freedom, fairness and human rights by adding your voice to the call for a secular democracy. Join the National Secular Society today https://www.secularism.org.uk/join

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Ep 24: The history of the NSS – Interview with Bob Forder



How did the secularist movement begin in Britain? And why should modern supporters of secularism care about its history?

In this week’s episode, Emma Park speaks to Bob Forder, a member of the NSS council and former history teacher, about the origins of secularism in Britain. Bob explains how the secularist movement was, from its early years, bound up with the story of the National Secular Society. From its origins in local working-class associations, secularism has always been a socially progressive if not radical movement that has challenged the established hierarchy.

Freedom of speech and of conscience, abolishing the blasphemy laws, providing scientific information about birth control – issues like these have been at the heart of secularist campaigns, and supported by the NSS, for over a hundred and fifty years. And, as this podcast shows, understanding the history of secularism can help reinforce its supporters’ sense of purpose, and their shared identity, even today.

Watch this episode on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_gyBTgBhbA&feature=youtu.be

Transcripts: https://www.secularism.org.uk/transcripts

Notes

The history of the National Secular Society

https://www.secularism.org.uk/history.html

The Fruits of Philosophy – an early pamphlet on contraception

https://www.secularism.org.uk/the-fruits-of-philosophy-trial.html

Peterloo’s heroes represented the finest traditions of secular democracy

https://www.secularism.org.uk/opinion/2018/11/peterloos-heroes-represented-the-finest-traditions-of-secular-democracy

Radicals, Rebels, and Revolutionaries of the 19th century – Bob Forder at Conway Hall

https://www.secularism.org.uk/radicals-rebels-and-revolutionar.html

Former NSS President Barbara Smoker dies at 96

https://www.secularism.org.uk/news/2020/04/former-nss-president-barbara-smoker-dies-at-96

Make a stand for freedom, fairness and human rights by adding your voice to the call for a secular democracy. Join the National Secular Society today https://www.secularism.org.uk/join

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Ep 21: Integrated education in Northern Ireland – interview with the Integrated Education Fund



In this episode, Emma Park speaks with Maddy Bridgman and Sam Fitzsimmons of the Integrated Education Fund, a charity that supports inclusive, integrated education (not segregated into de facto Protestant and Catholic schools) in Northern Ireland.

Maddy and Sam discuss the IEF’s campaign to support an integrated school system, and outline some of the difficulties the IEF has faced, both political, administrative and structural.

They also discuss positive signs that school students who attend integrated schools are benefiting from the tolerant and inclusive ethos that these schools promote.

Watch this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/edrVKRsXwWo

Transcripts: https://www.secularism.org.uk/transcripts

Notes

Education in NI shouldn’t be a tug of war between religious interests

https://www.secularism.org.uk/opinion/2019/10/education-in-ni-shouldnt-be-a-tug-of-war-between-religious-interests

Research reveals impact of religious discrimination on NI teachers

https://www.secularism.org.uk/news/2019/05/research-reveals-impact-of-religious-discrimination-on-ni-teachers

NSS calls for school integration in NI amid religious polarisation

https://www.secularism.org.uk/news/2018/04/nss-calls-for-school-integration-in-ni-amid-religious-polarisation

Integrated Education Fund

https://www.ief.org.uk

Integrate My School campaign

https://www.integratemyschool.com

Make a stand for freedom, fairness and human rights by adding your voice to the call for a secular democracy. Join the National Secular Society today https://www.secularism.org.uk/join

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Ep 20: Lee and Lizanne Harris – compulsory worship



In this episode, Emma Park speaks with Lee and Lizanne Harris about their experience of the collective worship requirement in schools.

The Harrises recently initiated judicial review proceedings against the primary school attended by their children. They challenged its decision to provide no alternative to a proselytising Christian assembly once a week conducted by representatives of the local C of E church.

Lee and Lizanne discuss their children’s experiences of these assemblies, what happened when they withdrew them, and the school’s failure to provide a secular alternative until they were forced to by the threat of legal proceedings.

The Harrises’ case may encourage other parents to speak up about concerns that their children will be indoctrinated if they participate in religious assemblies, and excluded from school life if they do not.

Watch this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/Oh0Sv2Je824

Transcripts: https://www.secularism.org.uk/transcripts

Notes

Lee Harris’s 2018 blog for the NSS

https://www.secularism.org.uk/opinion/2018/12/my-childrens-school-has-become-christian-by-default

C of E trust to introduce alternative to worship after legal challenge

https://www.secularism.org.uk/news/2019/11/coe-trust-to-introduce-alternative-to-worship-after-legal-challenge

More information and guidance from the NSS on collective worship: https://www.secularism.org.uk/end-compulsory-worship/

Make a stand for freedom, fairness and human rights by adding your voice to the call for a secular democracy. Join the National Secular Society today https://www.secularism.org.uk/join

Support the podcast, share with a friend and leave a five star review everywhere you can.


Secularist Manifesto election graphic

Ep 19: General election special



This week, Emma Park is joined by Stephen Evans and Chris Sloggett for a general election special. During the campaign the NSS is calling on parties to adopt 11 secularist pledges on subjects such as education and free speech. But which of these are on the parties’ agendas? Will any of them make it onto the statute book any time soon? And is religion stifling political debate? Join Stephen, Chris and Emma for comment and analysis.

Watch this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/7mwTBwyy6Xo

Transcripts: https://www.secularism.org.uk/transcripts

Notes

Election 2019: a secularist manifesto

https://www.secularism.org.uk/election-2019.html

Don’t let religious sectarianism tear our democracy apart

https://www.secularism.org.uk/opinion/2019/11/dont-let-religious-sectarianism-tear-our-democracy-apart

The definition of ‘Islamophobia’ and its criticisms

https://www.secularism.org.uk/news/2019/05/islamophobia-definition-unfit-for-purpose-say-campaigners/

Angela Rayner on Twitter: “I’ve never put our faith schools at risk and never will.”

https://twitter.com/AngelaRayner/status/1196856260186066944

Labour’s ‘race and faith manifesto’

https://action.labour.org.uk/page/-/party-documents/Race%20&%20Faith%20Manifesto%202017.pdf

Make a stand for freedom, fairness and human rights by adding your voice to the call for a secular democracy. Join the National Secular Society today https://www.secularism.org.uk/join

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Red microphone

Ep 15: ‘Islamophobia’ definition | Criticising infant circumcision



Emma Park speaks to Stephen Evans, CEO of the NSS and Chris Sloggett, communications officer, about the NSS’s opposition to a definition of ‘Islamophobia’ which was proposed by a parliamentary group in November 2018.

Chris and NSS campaigns officer Megan Manson also join Emma to discuss two recent rows relating to infant circumcision.

Megan highlights a court case in which a Nigerian Christian woman, Martina Obi-Uzom, was given a suspended sentence for having an infant boy circumcised without his mother’s consent. And Chris discusses a speech by the chief rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, in which he asked secularists and Humanists to stop campaigning against faith schools and infant circumcision.

Watch this episode on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U28virLevfM&feature=youtu.be

Transcripts: https://www.secularism.org.uk/transcripts

Notes

The NSS’s criticism of the APPG’s definition of Islamophobia

https://www.secularism.org.uk/news/2019/05/islamophobia-definition-unfit-for-purpose-say-campaigners

Concerns that the definition of Islamophobia would have a chilling effect on free speech

https://www.secularism.org.uk/news/2019/08/islamophobia-definition-curtails-free-speech-campaigners-warn

The NSS’s position on anti-Muslim bigotry

https://www.secularism.org.uk/hate-speech/position-statement-on-anti-musli.html/

Islamophobia Defined – the report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/599c3d2febbd1a90cffdd8a9/t/5bfd1ea3352f531a6170ceee/1543315109493/Islamophobia+Defined.pdf

Islamophobia: An Anthology of Concerns – essays critical of the APPG’s definition collected by Civitas, including one by the NSS

https://www.civitas.org.uk/publications/islamophobia/

The NSS’s concerns over the lenient sentencing of Martina Obi-Uzom in the forced circumcision case

https://www.secularism.org.uk/opinion/2019/09/a-woman-is-convicted-over-circumcision-what-happens-next

The NSS’s response to Chief Rabbi Mirvis’s request that secularists stop campaigning against religious privileges

https://www.secularism.org.uk/opinion/2019/09/the-chief-rabbi-has-made-an-anti-democratic-attempt-to-shut-down-criticism

The speech by Chief Rabbi Mirvis

https://www.facebook.com/ChiefRabbiMirvis/posts/2303906899738431

Forthcoming NSS events

https://www.secularism.org.uk/events.html

Make a stand for freedom, fairness and human rights by adding your voice to the call for a secular democracy. Join the National Secular Society today https://www.secularism.org.uk/join

Support the podcast, share with a friend and leave a five-star review everywhere you can.


Ep 14: End compulsory worship | Education update



In this episode, Emma Park speaks to the NSS’s Head of Education, Alastair Lichten, about the Society’s ongoing campaign against collective worship in schools. This is followed by a brief update on the NSS’s other campaigns in education, and its new resource for schools, Exploring Secularism.

It is, surprisingly, still a legal requirement in England and Wales that state schools practise some form of collective religious worship every day. Emma and Alastair discuss what the law is, how it is put into practice by different schools, the impact which it has on parents and children who do not want to participate, and what the NSS is doing to change the situation.

Our apologies for some handling and background noise on this episode. We hope to have it sorted out by the next recording.

Follow Emma Park on Twitter: @DrEmmaPark

Watch this episode on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Q_CJMDoR5I&feature=youtu.be

Transcripts: https://www.secularism.org.uk/transcripts

Notes

The NSS’s campaign against compulsory collective worship in schools, with some statistics:

https://www.secularism.org.uk/end-compulsory-worship/

The NSS’s proposal for inclusive secular assemblies without an element of directed worship:

https://www.secularism.org.uk/end-compulsory-worship/inclusive-secular-assemblies-and.html

Information about the NSS’s annual Bradlaugh Lecture:

https://www.secularism.org.uk/bradlaugh-lecture.html

The NSS’s Autumn Bulletin:

https://www.secularism.org.uk/publications.html?tag=NSS+Bulletin&year=&submit=Search

Exploring Secularism a new resource for schools developed by the NSS:

https://exploringsecularism.org

Make a stand for freedom, fairness and human rights by adding your voice to the call for a secular democracy. Join the National Secular Society today:

https://www.secularism.org.uk/join

Support the podcast, share with a friend and leave a five star review everywhere you can.


Red microphone

Ep11: Religious charities | Inclusive relationship and sex education



In episode 11, Chris Sloggett spoke to Megan Manson about charities which exist only to promote religion and whether these or religious charities which do harm are in the public benefit. Chris also spoke to and Alastair Lichten about protests by religious reactionaries against LGBT inclusive education and what the NSS is doing.

Watch this episode on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVmWU1jwrXE&feature=youtu.be

Transcripts: https://www.secularism.org.uk/transcripts

Links

Make a stand for freedom, fairness and human rights by adding your voice to the call for a secular democracy. Join the National Secular Society today https://www.secularism.org.uk/join

For the public benefit? The case for removing ‘the advancement of religion’ as a charitable purpose: https://www.secularism.org.uk/charities/charity-report

Faith free sex education: https://www.secularism.org.uk/sex-education/

Bradlaugh Lecture 2019 | No Outsiders: Reclaiming Radical Ideas in Schools https://www.secularism.org.uk/no-outsiders.html

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