What is the Place for Religion Within Education? Outside of all management.

Many may remember the education scandal associated with Operation Trojan Horse in 2014. A letter was given to the authorities which purported to be evidence of a plot by hard-line Islamists to replace leadership in Birmingham schools with a high proportion of attendees from Muslim backgrounds, in order to instil a much more religiously conservative ethos and curricula. Though the letter was widely suspected to be a hoax, it  raises some serious questions about what the role of religion in school should be. 

 These questions and others like it, have become a lot more difficult to answer with Ofsted delivering, on 19th January, its worst ever report to ‘The Durham Free School’; a school with a strong “Christian ethos”. The school received inadequate (the worst rating) in all areas covered in the inspection. Many of the inspector’s comments give significant cause for alarm, in relation to schooling generally but also in relation to the role that religion plays within the school. 

In the report we find comments such as:

“Reviewing the curriculum so that there are appropriate opportunities to teach students about sex and relationships and to promote respect for different faiths, beliefs and values so that they are fully ready to function as young citizens of modern Britain”

“Governors place too much emphasis on religious credentials when they are recruiting key staff and not enough on seeking candidates with excellent leadership and teaching skills”

“The religious studies curriculum was too narrow and did not give students enough opportunities to learn about different faiths and beliefs. Consequently, students’ understanding of different faiths and beliefs is sketchy with some holding prejudiced views which are not challenged.”

It is clear that the school’s management and teaching staff, and the governors have all, to some extent, allowed their own personal religious beliefs to negatively impact on the opportunity for the pupils of this school to receive an adequate education; a very sad state of affairs.

With two serious incidents in education from schools where religious values are put before teaching the role of religious schools within Britain has to be called in to question.

No one should be saying that schools should be wholly secular, with no religious education; this is not a way to foster understanding and compassion for people and their beliefs. But what can be said is that the management of a school should be wholly secular, with religion being kept to the religious studies classroom.
It has been the tradition of the government in the UK, and was written in to the American constitution that, though religion has its place, that place is not within the running of a society. Schools are a bedrock of any healthy society, and so reasonably they should fall under the same dictum that religion does not have a place within the governance of out schooling systems.

To read the Ofsted report in full follow the link below:


Fifty Shades of Red, White and Blue

In an audacious attempt to capture the youth vote, UKIP have payrolled and released the raunchy film ‘Fifty Shades of Red, White and Blue’ which will be rolled out across cinemas for the coming weekend. Critics are divided by what to think of this film; some are calling it a simple attempt to grab cash by piggybacking Fifty Shades of Grey, while others are calling it a triumph of British values overcoming the sordid depictions of sex for other media outlets. We catch up with the writer and director of UKIP’s first pic for the inside story.

“We wanted to bring British values to a new platform, to help educate the youth while also showing them what UKIP stand for” says the film’s director. “And that is why this film, following a young couple in their early days of courtship, shows the act of sexual congress in truly British fashion- Which of course means sex, in a bed, under the sheets, with the lights off, and no talking; exactly how sex should be.”

“Yes some may have criticised the film for having a three minute scene which is completely dark with no sound, but we wanted to capture and show the true British experience, and we believe that this film has done that. The British way is not with all of these whips and chains like the seedy American film; the only whips in our film is during the racy visit to Royal Ascot! Nor is it like all Jewish people who have sex with a sheet in between the couple. I dread to think how people have sex in Ting Tong Land or Bongo Bongo Land; I can only assume that this is just outdoors, in the dirt for most people. That is only going to lead to people picking up infections which would put a terrible strain on the NHS; a true British institution!”

So, only time will tell whether this film will be a success for UKIP, but just prior to a General Election it is certainly a brave move!
If you enjoyed this blog why not check out other similar posts:
– How might the story of Jesus sound under a UKIP government? A televised speech from Nigel Farage: https://sayitin500.wordpress.com/2014/12/30/how-might-the-story-of-jesus-sound-under-a-ukip-government-a-televised-speech-from-nigel-farage/

– Nigel Farage wins stand-up comedy’s Perrier Award: https://sayitin500.wordpress.com/2014/10/17/nigel-farage-wins-stand-up-comedies-perrier-award/

– BBC Film 2114 Review of ‘12 years a Foodbank User’: https://sayitin500.wordpress.com/2014/06/30/bbc-film-2114-review-of-12-years-a-fooodbank-user/

The Hot TV Shows of 2015 to Watch Out For…

With fly-on-the-wall-reality-shows being ridiculously cheap, as channels do not have to hire actors or script writers or build studios, 2015 is set to be a bumper-filled year of more programs trying to ride the wave of success had by Channels 4’s 24 hours in A&E and BBC 3s Tough Young Teachers. This year we can surely expect to see:

Inside the Common
A fly on the wall documentary about a London common; think Eastenders, except no drama as no one is paying for a script writer. You could literally walk outside your house for this, plus that would give you the added benefit of getting fresh air, if you can even remember what that is? Get off your sofa!

24 hours in DVLA
Watch with amazement as Channel 5 try to scrape together six hour-long episodes of vaguely interesting incidents after a whole years filming inside the main DVLA office in Swansea. Watch as Channel 5 combine fast-changing camera angles and intense bass music to try and inject some drama in to scenes of DVLA officers screening requests for provisional licenses. Tasty.

Scroungers Street- Bankers addition
In Channels 4s attempt to prove that they are still edgy, and as a follow up to Benefits Street, on their new show welcome to Lombard Street, home of some of the country’s worst scroungers. Also known as the Wall Street of London, Lombard Street is the heart of the banking industry. Highlights include scandal after scandal as bankers continuously break the law with no legal ramifications. You couldn’t write it, as no one writes for TV anymore.

London’s Really Burning
With 24 hours in A&E proving hugely popular, and police chase shows being a hit since the 90s we can only expect to see a show set at a fire station. With unprecedented access to somewhere we haven’ really seen much on TV before, this novel take on the hackneyed concept will sure to give thrills, spills and a few bits that, with the right kind of music will bring a tear to the eye; and in a warm “I love life” kind of way, rather than a chilling, existential ‘what is the point of it all?’ way.

Polling Stations; Battle Stations
With General Election fever gripping the nation. Watch live from the polling station ‘Eskdaleside cum Ugglebarnby’. This civil parish tucked away in the Scarborough District in North Yorkshire promises much drama come polling day. With voter turnout predicted to be as high as 10%, with the locals gripped by the goings on of petty Westminster-based politicians, expect fireworks. Who will cover when Geoff goes to the toilet? What does Doris have in her lunch box? Will Jim finish reading Newton’s Principia Mathematica before the count, or will he give up and go back to his Su Doku?

Your visit to A&E in 2020

Man- Ooooowww! Help me!
Nurse- I’m with you now, sir. Welcome to the Serco quick response care service, how can we aid you today?
Man- Ooowww! Is this not A&E
Nurse- Well yes sir, but following a listening exercise with our customers Serco rebranded the department- they felt “Accident and Emergency” sounded too downbeat. So we are now “quick response care service”. How can we aid you today.
Man- I fell off a ladder and I think I broke my leg. I had to get a taxi in because the ambulance service said it was not resource friendly to provide transport for just a broken leg!
Nurse- yes, then Serco direct transport aid service will say that nowadays sir.
Man- I didn’t realise that I had to be cost effective to get an ambulance!
Nurse- well in order for us to meet our contractual targets, Serco has to be shown to be providing a value for money service. But what can you expect, people want a health care service that is free at the point of access and then complain when we provide that! Anyway, enough of this chit chat, I have two minutes to triage you,mane we have already used one of those minutes, so chop chop, how can we aid you today?
Man- as I say, I think that I’ve broken my leg.
Nurse- think you have or know you have?
Man- well how should I know?
Nurse- oh that’s a shame, if you knew it was broken we could have put you on the fast track treatment pathway, but if you need a diagnosis that will slow things down. We estimate your wait will be four hours.
Man- Four hours?! But I’m in agony, AND there’s nobody else here.
Nurse- well no sir, but you have been triaged as a level five emergency which we aim to reposed to within four hours. If we start treating you now, and a level 1 emergency comes in hen we might miss a target there.
Man- but I don’t want to wait four hours!
Nurse- I know,mist frustrating; if you had broken a hand as well that would move you quite sharply up the list. Some people pop to the bathroom and break their hand in order to move up the list. We can provide the equipment to do that in a safe way, for a reasonable price if you like?
Man- I’m not breaking my own hand!
Nurse- well do you have anything else that will move you up he list?
Man- I’ve got depression;
Nurse- Oh that’s good.
Man- so I get moved up he list?
Nurse- Ah, no. That treatment is not supplied by Serco, but we do however get £50 for every successful referral so I’ll write it down.
man- But it doesn’t move me up the list?
Nurse- No but did you not hear me, we get fifty quid!
Man- Why should I care about that?
Nurse- Well that fifty and other peoples fifties add up and that money gets invested back in to the service
Man- Where?
Nurse- Well… Doctors bonuses, but I’m sure you want your doctor to be happy, right? By the way while we’re talking about referrals, do you think you might have cancer?
Man- Is this really the time for this?
Nurse- Oh I’m sorry sir do you have a pressing engagement to get to? A pressing appointment for sitting and waiting in agony to get to?
Man- No
Nurse- Precisely sir, so do you think you might have cancer?
Man- I don’t see why I would?
Nurse- Hmm, well has anyone in your family ever had a heart condition?
Man- Well my dad died of a heart attack…
Nurse- Perfect! Checking for congenital heart failure could get us £120!
Man- Oh, I can’t be bothered with this. I’m just going to go home and take my chances.
Nurse- That will lead to a fifty pound fine, sir, for engaging services without using them.
Man- Fine, put the bill in the post.
Nurse- We will, sir, and we would kindly ask for you to fill in and send back our Customer satisfaction survey, which we will send out with the bill. Have a good day now, sir.

Letter II- The ScrewBlair Letters

My dear nephew MiliWorm

I have been reading the update reports you have sent me, MiliWorm, on your campaign and I am more vexed than ever by your drivelling scribblings. You talk so proudly of your coup having had a donation from the union Unite, but before you begin celebrating like a private schoolboy during a weekend exeat I need to have a serious word with you about these unions.

Your cabinet minion TristeHunt has been talking without thinking again, like the arrogant swine that he is. He has criticised the Green Party in such an absent-minded way that the patient could not fail to notice. TristeHunt called the Green Party education policy out of date and full of ludicrous policies. Now, usually I am all for berating the policies of these loathsome left-leaning liberals but in this case, seeing as he is the minion for education how could he fail to notice that the Green Party education policy totally mirrors that of the National Union of Teachers own manifesto. In his attempt to distance yourselves from the political putrefaction that is the Green Party he has also served to distance us from one of the largest and strongest unions! The utter cretin!

Do not think that I am not showering down my scorn on you also, MiliWorm. It is your job to stop these kind of actions from your minions in the first place, and you have failed, once again. This is no less than I expect from you but this election is yours to lose and I am beginning to think that the best strategy you could employ would be for you all to keep your mouths firmly shut, as only excrement spews forth when open, it seems!

Now, to discuss your so-called scalp in receiving a 1.5million pound donation from Unite. You cheer at the union support, while in the same week on of your minions criticises another union. You fools! This only makes it appear as if the left hand of the party does not know what the party’s right hand is doing. Such hypocrisy and a lack of integrity is bound to arouse the patient from its distracted slumber, let alone to arouse jeers from all corners of Westmonster!

Plus, the enemy* has quickly jumped on to say you are at the behest of your union paymasters. The hypocrisy of this brings bile to the back of my throat. How they can insinuate our policies are bought when they lunch with lobbyists every day.

Treasury keen to engage in hypocrisy and backstabbing wherever possible by @rowland72james

Treasury keen to engage in hypocrisy and backstabbing wherever possible by @rowland72james

Having said this, the enemy may have a point. The unions cannot be seen to be able to buy labour policy. This is a difficult tightrope and I pray that you heed my advice. The key here is simply to lie, prevaricate and procrastinate. Make promises to the unions that you have no real intention to fulfil and ensure that they remain unaware of this until after the election when it is too late for them to do anything. This takes wit and guile to pull off, of which I have little confidence in your ability to fulfil but seeing as you are our only hope MiliWorm I have no other choice than to rely on you.

Charm all of the unions; promise them the sun so that they are so dazzled they cannot see that you have only given them the moon. I know being charming is difficult for you, but I urge you to try nonetheless. I await your next report my dear MiliWorm.

Your affectionate,
Uncle ScrewBlair

Read letter ! here:

Appearances can be deceiving- remember that Miliworm! by @Rowland72James

Appearances can be deceiving- remember that Miliworm!
by @Rowland72James

* Patient refers to the general British public
The Enemy refers to the Conservative party
This is a pastiche of ‘The Screwtape Letters’ by CS Lewis. For more info visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Screwtape_Letters

The ScrewBlair Letters- Letter I


Dear my beloved MiliWorm

I have been keeping an eye on your campaign, and I have to say I am thoroughly distressed by your lack of progress. Yes, you lead in the polls, but this is slim and may be lost at a moments notice if you do not capitalise on it by striking at the weaknesses of your enemy, the Tories. Our patient, the British Public, they do not truly know who to vote for. Our patient is ignorant and you need to take advantage of this ignorance in order to get your way!

Model yourself on me, MilliWorm and you will succeed, I assure you! Model yourself on me, MiliWorm and you will succeed, I assure you!

Now, let’s start with how you come across in photo opportunities. You are awful, you make me sick; you disgusting retch! You get support from AxelGrind only to apparently completely waste it. The first rule of any politicians persona is do not let…

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We can be Animal Rights Activists and Eat Meat

There is often an argument from vegetarians/vegans etc. that if you eat meat then you shouldn’t be an animal rights activist because it is hypocritical. It is worth responding to this argument to say that you can eat meat and be an animal rights activist.

Firstly we have to accept that vegetarians are pretty fair with their argument; if you eat meat then it is a bit (maybe a lot) hypocritical to say you advocate the rights of animals.

But you could argue to say that we are all hypocrites; basically every single one of us, in one way or another. How many of us moan about corporations blocking taxes but owns an iPhone, or has a Vodafone contract, or shops at Amazon some times? How many of us complain about tax hikes and yet fight for to keep the NHS out of private hands, or moans about the state of our roads or public transport provision? How many of us keep most of our disposable income instead of giving the majority of it to charity; yeah it would be nice to save for a bigger house, but when there are people and other animals dying from very preventable causes it seems vaguely ridiculous! Do you ask for a present for Christmas and your birthday or do you say ‘give the money you would spend on me to charity’; some people do, obviously but if you don’t then you too are hypocrite; that’s just the way it is! There is some fantastic psychology on cognitive dissonance discussing this; see the link at the bottom for more info on this.

Animal rights issues are vitally important for moving the world forward to a more compassionate state where we care for other animals with the same compassion we often show for humans. A lot has been achieved but there is a still a long hard fight ahead. So, how many people in the UK are vegetarian/vegan etc? 1 in 10? Sounds reasonable? How many of these are active animal rights activists? Let’s say 5 in 10, to be kind. That’s 90% of the population not allowed to be animal rights activists and 5% who actually are! These are important issues and only campaigning together can a voice be loud enough to be heard and to make a change. Let’s allow everyone to campaign. Say 2 in 10 meat eaters join the campaign, you have multiplied by a factor of five your number of campaigners! Your voice is five times louder!

Yes eating meat is wrong, and people should campaign for this, and there are scientists looking at manufacturing meat without having to kill animals, but getting the whole world to go veggie is going to take a long time, if it is even possible. So let’s prioritise, let’s stop people who hunt animals for sport, who make money from killing endangered species, for ensure as many animals as possible are treated with dignity and respect. As change occurs, and our compassion for other species increases the campaign to stop people eating meat will become so much easier, and getting to this point will happen so much quicker by working together and not against each other!