Other campaigns to look at: Hospital Chaplaincy; Academy Schools; the great British tax scandal

The more letters sent the better
Send letters to: Your local NHS Trust – patient.experience and complaints; MPs, Assembly Members, local papers etc.May I ask you to take just a few moments to consider this question:

What does the Hospital Chaplaincy Service have that the following do not?

The Wales Air Ambulance Service
The Macmillan Cancer Care nursing service
The Cardiff Childrens Hospital

The answer is 100% funding from the Wales NHS budget.

How can this be justified in these times of cutbacks to services?

In excess of £1.3 million has been spent on chaplaincy services in Wales in each of the last three financial years; over £40m a year across the whole NHS.

The provision of a hospital chaplaincy service is not a statutory obligation for the NHS (although, bizarrely, it is a statutory obligation for the prison service and the armed forces). It is probably best described as a traditional provision by the NHS. But what is an organisation based on science doing wasting money on services that peddle superstition and delusion?

£1.3 million each and every year into the future may be seen as a small contribution but only by obtaining many such small contributions may these increasing demands be met.

The creation of a Hospital Chaplaincy Fund to cover the cost of religious care by hospital chaplains would relieve this drain on NHS resources.The proposed charity would need to raise about £1.5 million per year to maintain the present service. This is ought to be entirely achievable for a supposedly valued service. While the present fiscal arrangements are in place, a portion of this amount would be met by gift aid tax which is returned by the Treasury. The Welsh Air Ambulance charity raises £5 million per year.

In Wales the largest single faith community is the Anglican Church in Wales. Alan Rogers , of the Charitable Chaplaincy Campaign, has written to the Bishops and Archbishop of the Church in Wales suggesting that they might be the natural leaders in this enterprise. The reaction has been, the NHS has taken responsibility for religious care, so the Church need not act. Regrettably there appears to be a lack of leadership from the Church in this matter.

As a consequence, a strong lead from elsewhere is required. The CCC suggest that this should perhaps amount to a declaration of a time period for the transition to charitable funding. Anyone want to second this motion?

If you feel that it cannot be justified join the Charitable Chaplaincy Campaign.
Details can be obtained from Alan Rogers – just email Rogers.a

ACADEMY SCHOOLS – worrying developments
Send to:

MPs, Michael Gove, local papers etc

On the 12th January the Rt Hon. David Lammy has secured a debate in the House of Commons on the issue of forced academies. This is very important as it is the first public scrutiny of how the Secretary of State is using new powers obtained under the 2011 Education Act.
These powers appear to give Michael Gove the power to force schools to convert to academy status regardless of the views of parents, staff, governors, or the Local Authority.

Please take part in the debate and ensure these points are raised:

1. There is no evidence that converting primary schools into academies raises attainment. The evidence currently available suggests that the New Labour secondary school academy programme which came with significant additional capital and revenue has had mixed fortunes with some academies doing very well but other doing not so well. Some academies are in the OFSTED category of Special Measures.

2. Is forced academy conversion the best value in terms of school improvement? There is abundant evidence that a relentless focus on improving teaching and learning is the most cost effective method of school improvement.

3. How does the policy of forced academies fit with the values of Big Society in which power is supposedly being given back to local communities? This is direct central control of schooling disregarding the whole local community.

4. The new OFSTED chief Sir Michael Wilshaw has recently acknowledged that academies will fail. He is proposing a new layer of bureaucracy local school commissioners to oversee schools. Is there a danger of a new and costly bureaucracy which will duplicate the role of the LA?

5. The policy of forced academies has no mandate. It did not appear in either Tory or Lib Dem manifestos or in the Coalition Agreement. In the debate at the time of the 2010 Academies ActMichael Gove made clear that academy status was entirely a voluntary or permissive matter.

6. The apparent absence of due process in forced academy conversions appears to breach the expected norms of public consultation. Indeed there are doubts if there is any effective mechanism for consultation with all stakeholders. In Haringey, North London, 5 schools were given 2 weeks over the Christmas holiday to agree conversion or have the academy order and sponsor imposed on them.

7. There has been no public Parliamentary scrutiny of the either Academies Programme or the Free school programme since the election despite repeated stories in the media of financial problems and stakeholder opposition. The rate of voluntary conversions far exceed the DfE initial impact assessment which identified only 200 conversions per year. MPs have a public duty to scrutinise the impact of much greater numbers converting.

Even more sinister and worrying is the way Faith Schools are taking advantage of Academy status.

I am writing to you urgently about what I think is the single most threatening development in the area of faith schools since their expansion began in 2001to bring your attention to new moves by the Church of England and the Department for Education rapidly to expand the Churchs role in our state education system.

If the Church and the Government have their way and their ambitions are realised the Church will become the single largest provider of schools totally funded by the state. That means that a majority of schools may be allowed to discriminate religiously in employment discriminate religiously in admissions and teach curricula heavily skewed towards Christianity right across the board.

For some time we have been warning that the governments Academies programme has provided a huge opportunity for the Church to take control of inclusive community schools which convert to Academy status. Community schools are maintained by their local authority do not have a religious character and before the coalition government made up two thirds of all state schools. However they are now converting in droves to be Academies and therefore opting out of local authority control. It is natural that many of these schools will look to replace the local authority and gain support of another parent organisation and the Church of England is by far the largest and oldest private provider of schools.

The Church is now waking up to the unique opportunity that the Academies programme has presented it. In July Malton School became the first to seek a double conversion first changing to an Academy and then to be a CofE faith school. In late SeptemberArchbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams acknowledged that Malton was not the only school that is seeking to do this stating that there had already been many many community schools interested in becoming CofE schools upon Academy conversion. Dr Williams stated that We are looking at the middle-term future where the Church of England will be quite conceivably the largest sponsor and provider of secondary education in this country which is a rather startling and breathtaking proposal.

And now we find out that the Church even has its eyes on every non-religious school and the government is actively supporting the Churchs plans. Last week it was revealed that the Church is working on a major new report looking specifically at how it can capitalise on the demise of the local authorities and Discussions are also in progress with the Department for Education about how the process for community schools wishing to become CofE faith academies can be made quicker and easier. At present there have to be separate consultations dealing with academy and faith proposals but plans are being devised that would allow them to be combined.

Even those that choose not to go down this route may fall under Church control. The article continues by looking at Canterbury Diocese where the Church has been establishing formal collaborative relationships between different types of schools – faith and secular – since the summer… The diocese is currently working on a groundbreaking set of plans that would allow it to sponsor community schools that are becoming academies without them becoming designated faith schools – a model that does not presently exist. Such a model will still allow the Church to still put some slant on the curriculum of the school and perhaps also require senior staff to be practising Anglicans.

Commenting on the proposalsMichael Gove says that I dont think we should interpret whats happening as some kind of clerical takeover. Its not like the dissolution of the monasteries being reversed with our childrens education being placed in the hands of monks and abbots. The truth is that CofE schools are generally popular and the direction of travel we want to go is to give more responsibility to schools that have proven successful.

In fact this is a potentially massive takeover. It is unsurprising that a national church to which 80% of the population do not actually see themselves as belonging and whose services are attended on a monthly basis by under 5% of the population should see its only hope for future survival as a state-funded service provider. But the idea that government which should be providing schools inclusive of all, is facilitating this drive with public money is shameful.

Please oppose these proposals every step of the way for the sake of the education, society and future we bequeath our children and grandchildren.

The Great British Tax Scandal
Our tax agency is letting big businesses like Goldman Sachs off billions of pounds of tax. MPs have called for action, but the government isn’t responding. Let’s boost the MPs’ call and get the Prime Minister to ensure full transparency and full payment. Sign now:

Click here to sign the petition

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