Government money for ACE schools in the UK

This will be short: I was in the middle of something else when I came across the latest Ofsted inspection report for Carmel Christian School, an ACE school in Bristol.

On page 3:

Currently there are 17 boys and 23 girls on roll; this number includes 17 children in the Early Years Foundation Stage, all of whom receive government funding. Twelve of these children attend part time. The school is run on Christian principles and provides a curriculum with a significant emphasis on Bible teaching. The curriculum is taught through Packets of Accelerated Christian Education (PACEs).

Wait… what? Government funding to EYFS children in ACE schools? Where else is this happening?

I’m getting on the phone to the NSS and the BHA right now to see about getting this stamped out. 

About jonnyscaramanga

I grew up as a Christian fundamentalist in the UK. Now I am writing a book and blog about what that's like, and what fundamentalists believe.

Posted on March 8, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. ashley haworth-roberts


    I’ve looked into this online. As I understand it three and four year olds in England are entitled to 15 hours of free Early Years Entitlement per week, across 38 weeks of the year. At various establishments/with various providers – this includes nursery or reception classes in independent schools. Or the entitlement can be spread evenly across 50 weeks with fewer hours per week dependent on what the childcare provider offers.

    Carmel Christian School is of course fee-paying. Thus the funding these children aged three and four (or their parents) receive is presumably the cost of the fees, so that they can attend free of charge – as with other establishments that such children may attend (nursery classes at primary schools, pre-schools, maintained nursery schools, private day nurseries, accredited childminders).

    It does seem odd or anomalous that whilst the government is against creationism and ID being taught as scientifically valid in state schools, it includes within the Early Years Foundation Stage funding arrangements some private Christian schools that teach an extreme and particularly controversial sort of creationism, namely Accelerated Christian Education or ACE. One might think that the parents involved should have to pay the fees – as presumably they do when their child at Carmel and similar private Christian schools using ACE materials reaches the age of five (or if they cannot afford the fees, I assume the child then attends another – perhaps maintained – school).

    From Carmel’s website:
    “At Carmel Christian School we insist on the highest academic and moral standards. We have been so proud to see the all around excellence of those who have left our senior learning centre to head off to University or to undertake other courses and qualifications. High standards of achievement through the ACE curriculum, continual love and encouragement from our dedicated staff, combined with a steady input of the Word of God and adherence to a strict code of conduct have always paid great dividends in the young lives entrusted to our care.”

    Ashley Haworth-Roberts
    PS I once worked at the DfE – but never in this area.

    • Thanks for the extra info Ashley. “Highest academic and moral standards” is a joke. ACE has abysmal academic standards and the pastor of Carmel, Gerri Di Somma, is the most abusive man I’ve ever known.

      It’s obvious to me that ACE schools should not receive funding to provide EYFS childcare, but less obvious how to legislate against it without excluding all faith groups. And while I suspect that some at the BCSE, NSS, and BHA would be in favour of secularising all of it, 1) I’m not sure that’s right, and 2) it would be really hard to get legislation like that passed.

  2. wth? seriously, wth

  3. I’m sure it was totally a coincidence that my ACE school opened in 1984, the same year that the (at the time) Social Credit Government of BC offered to cover half of independent school’s costs. I don’t personally remember any government folk coming by to see how taxpayers’ money was being spent, but I was pretty young and almost solely focused on watching for the paddle at that point.
    Still, there is a flip side to these school’s being funded as at least their is some, if only partial, outside evaluation being made. As this attached article mentions, regarding a Fundamentalist Mormon school in Bountiful, BC, it can be a mixed blessing.

    • Yeah, there’s a book I’m planning to review on the blog at some point that argues that vouchers are the best thing that could happen for schools like this. Right now, they’re totally private so they can do what they want, but if they’re getting public money, there’s a clear, easy case to say they can be regulated.

  4. I’m not so sure about vouchers. In the USA they’re dished out to parents to do with as they will. Which in many cases means trotting along with them to the nearest creationist school. There’s a fuss about them being used as a way round the Establishment Clause.

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