New ACE school in Dover has televangelist backing
In 2014, a new ACE school will open in Dover. If they can get planning permission. The school’s first proposal was to put the school on the seafront. This was dropped when locals pointed out the proposed facility had no parking, no play area, no dining facilities, and was on a main road.
Unlike virtually every other ACE school, though, Dover School for All Nations looks like it has some serious investment behind it. The school website says it was established by its “visionary partners“, TBN – the Trinity Broadcasting Network – the world’s foremost broadcaster of the Word of Faith prosperity gospel, founded and run by Paul and Jan Crouch. The school lists Richard Fleming first on its list of directors and trustees (so it’s not clear which he is). Fleming was “director and General Manager of God TV during its inspection” [sic], the other big prosperity gospel broadcaster in the UK and Europe. And if I am reading his biography correctly (it’s not the most clearly-written thing I’ve ever seen), he is landlord to 50 charities in central London. So he isn’t poor.
This makes DSFAN a collision of all the things this blog discusses. According to the school’s PSHE policy, students will be taught “Kingdom Principles” including “sowing & reaping”. This is standard Word of Faith jargon for the prosperity gospel. Kids attending this school, then, will do creationism in the morning and learn about giving their money to televangelists in the afternoon.
It’s unclear how much is in place already, and how much of the school’s impressive website is bluster. Just who are the good looking students in the promotional photos, when the school hasn’t opened yet? And the sports page says there will be facilities for pretty much every sport imaginable, “in association with the Dover Leisure Centre”. Which is just a spin doctor’s way of saying they won’t have any facilities at the school.
Apparently it plans to open with 30 students and expand to 197 by 2018. If it succeeds in this somewhat ambitious attempt, it will be the biggest ACE school in the country by a considerable stretch (average enrolment is about 20 students per school). So far, however, its YouTube channel has 0 subscribers, and the most popular video has received 57 views. Its Facebook page has a phenomenal three (3) Likes. But I hope this won’t make my readers complacent. Antifundamentalist campaigners in the late 1920s USA struggled to persuade people that the Christian Right, as it would come to be known, was a threat, and now look where we are.
The website contains extravagant promises of school trips everywhere from London to Brussels and Amsterdam (frankly, I’m not sure there’s much in Amsterdam that ACE kids are allowed to see). But most of these pictures are just stock photos easily pulled from the web. Under school trips, one picture shows David Beckham playing in a Manchester United shirt. If they have the technology to take children to see that, they should be charging more.
The school’s curriculum looks set to be a bit of a hodgepodge. Although ACE is clearly the main draw, they’re also offering the International Baccalaureate, Cambridge National A levels and GCSCs [sic]. I imagine that Christian Education Europe won’t be that thrilled about this. They’re trying their damnedest to establish their ACE-based ICCE as the equivalent of A Levels, and DSFAN offering competing qualifications looks a bit like an admission that it isn’t. Still, it’s clearly the ICCE that’s getting the heaviest sell – no less than five of the videos on its YouTube channel promote the qualification specifically in the title. Still, one of the big problems getting parents to send kids to ACE schools has been the fear that they won’t be able to get into university or employment afterwards. DSFAN’s solution appears to be to offer recognised qualifications as well; we’ll see if this strategy pays off.
In addition to ACE, the school plans to bolster the ACE curriculum with other activities including practical science (which is welcome). In choosing topics for this, they will follow the ACE material, and “use National Curriculum guidelines also – with Biblical ‘filters’ as necessary”. For “Biblical filters”, read “omit all mention of evolution”.
DSFAN has some staff that are familiar to Leaving Fundamentalism readers, and some more staff who soon will be. A school governor (and presumably supervisor) is Monica Stringer, who wrote an impassioned defence of ACE on this site not long ago, in which she virtually admitted that it’s a system of indoctrination. The “school Author and CEO” meanwhile, is one Pieter van Rooyen, a fascinating gentleman.
Monica introduced me to Van Rooyen via email when I asked her for assistance in finding participants for my PhD. He replied, initially helpful. Then, a while later, I got another email from him. He’d obviously googled me or asked around his ACE colleagues. He now told me that he knew who I was and was aware of my “hidden agenda”. He would not be co-operating with me in any way, and he’d written to his family and friends to warn them not to speak to me either.
I thought Hmmm… Van Rooyen’s an unusual name, I bet it googles. And it really, really does.
Van Rooyen, of course, continues to protest his innocence. It won’t be the last time he crops up on this blog.
Posted on September 16, 2013, in Accelerated Christian Education, Atheism, Christianity, Creationism, Education, Faith Schools, Fundamentalism, School of Tomorrow, Word of Faith and tagged Dover, ICCE, Jan Crouch, Pieter Van Rooyen, Prosperity Gospel, Prosperity theology, Trinity Broadcasting Network, Word of Faith. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.