Christian Education Europe eats itself… bring popcorn!

It’s all go in the exciting world of fundamentalist education this week as former Christian Education Europe (CEE) employee Christine Gregg has started blowing the whistle again. You may remember that recently a website called Ace Education sprang up, seemingly with the primary intention of discrediting Leaving Fundamentalism. This was the blog that gave the world 10 Questions for Jonny Scaramanga. The blogger behind it was Christine. Now she has had enough.

Christine says that she was pressured into writing the blog by CEE founder Arthur Roderick, but never felt comfortable writing it. Now she wants to expose the unethical practices and bullying she says she saw at CEE.

Last week, I also had an article posted on Guardian Science blogs, in which I revealed two things: 1) Four British universities have stated that they consider the International Certificate of Christian Education (ICCE) as entry qualification. 2) When students study science for the ICCE, they will read that it could be possible to generate electricity from snow.

Frozen Elsa

Presumably ACE thought Frozen was a documentary about the potential uses of snow power.

Taken together, these two developments are very bad news for CEE’s flagship product, the ICCE qualification.

Although my post has had more views, it’s potentially Christine’s revelations that will do more damage to CEE. While I’ve caused a stir in the atheist community, Christine has a better chance of being heard by CEE’s customers and associates. I expect CEE will do everything they can to discredit Christine, but the fact remains that she is a Christian and someone who knows the company from the inside.

In particular, Christine makes two allegations that could be explosive: 1) The prizes were fixed at CEE’s European Student Conventions, and 2) moderation of essays on the ICCE was done poorly by unqualified people.

How does this relate to my Guardian article? Well, much of the blame for universities accepting the ICCE must lie with UK NARIC, who have declared the ICCE Advanced certificate to be on a par with Cambridge International A Levels. It is NARIC, along with CEE, who should be answering difficult questions. Whenever I’ve attacked NARIC for its decision, I’ve criticised Accelerated Christian Education, which makes up most but not all of the ICCE qualification. NARIC has therefore always been able to defend itself by insisting:

In 2011, UK NARIC was approached by ICCE Ltd to review broad subject areas and learning outcomes of ICCE qualifications, not ACE curricula, exclusively, as it has been claimed. The ICCE qualifications that were examined as part of the project are baccalaureate style awards that are partly based on the ACE curriculum, but they also include compulsory assessed elements such as coursework, essay assignments and project work which are supplemental to the ACE material.  In-depth analysis of these elements formed a key part of the overall evaluation of the ICCE qualifications.

Because I have no way of looking at these other parts of the ICCE, I could never respond to that. But a former employee of CEE can. And according to Christine, they have been highly suspect. Entries at European Student Convention which counted for ICCE credits have been subjected to questionable marking practices:

As an arts judge I was often told which pieces were 1st, 2nd or 3rd and to mark them all accordingly. If I were to disagree, I would be overruled. Often if a better work was to win, rather than a favoured student, we were given a good reason, such as it “didn’t honour God”, as to why we had to disqualify the work.

Note to attendees: Did you often believe you were inferior to these gifted winners? Nope you weren’t, you just weren’t favoured or were unknown to CEE. I have witness statements from other Christian judges and a 24/7 (a favoured group of ACE graduate helpers at ESC [European Student Convention]) to back up the claims, so don’t take my word for it.

I once was head judge for Web design. There were only four entries and one was outstanding. The last place went to a favoured student whose website was childlike with broken links, poor navigation and looked awful. Unfortunately, this entry was also up for an ICCE credit and didn’t make the grade. The favoured school complained as the student wouldn’t graduate without his pass. I stood my ground and was overruled. A credit was given to an unworthy student. I can state many more cases of cheating at ESC. A 24/7 member came to me and told me a drama event had been nobbled but there was nothing I could do. In photography I was told to disqualify a student as he hadn’t taken the entered photographs. I did so and it was me who took the flack from those concerned.

So CEE, if you want the ICCE to be worth anything at all, you need to check on ESC judging and entries earning credits. It would be honourable to God to have independent judges too rather than relatives of competitors. The rows behind the scene are second to none.

She also reports that ICCE essays have been moderated badly:

ICCE moderation was a disgrace when I worked at CEE. Often the work was moderated badly by one disabled and very incapable woman. Her marking was inconsistent and writing unclear. No one checked her work. I do believe they moderate better now, but not to Government standards.

Christine says that she can substantiate all these claims. If these practices have been widespread, then it adds to the doubt about the ICCE’s validity as a university entrance qualification.

Related posts:

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 September 29, 2014, in Accelerated Christian Education, Christianity, Education, Faith Schools, Fundamentalism, School of Tomorrow and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. revoliverharrison

    top stuff JS. Keep up the good work!

  2. I read your article on the guardian with interest, unfortunately i came across it too late to comment there.

    I was involved in the decision to accept one of the students at one of the Universities you mentioned in the article. We had serious reservations about the curriculum that they had followed and were worried by the NARIC guidance that stated the qualifications were equivalent, however we did not have enough reliable research/information to totally discount NARIC. On a personal level I also felt that it was wrong to punish the student for having been forced to follow a curriculum of indoctrination and felt that 3 years of university education would hopefully have a really positive influence on their future. After some consideration we decided to treat the student as we would a mature applicant and ask them to submit an essay and attend an interview with the Admissions Tutor. Ultimately it was decided to admit them based on this work with the suggestion that they were tracked by the department to see how they coped to help us inform future decisions. This is a relatively standard procedure for students with new/unusual qualifications.

    Although I no longer work at that institution and cannot speak for them I am happy that the right decision was made for that student in that individual case. We in no way endorsed the qualification as a standard entry requirement, although I can’t comment on if any other students were admitted with this qualification subsequently.

    The real issue here however is the NARIC endorsement. I am quite interested in fundamentalism and as this qualification flagged my radar I did some investigation (including reading here) and discussed my concerns with the Admissions team before a decision was made. However the standard procedure when admissions teams come across unfamiliar qualifications is to refer to the NARIC guidance and I can totally understand a busy admissions officer taking the official guidance at face value and accepting a student on that basis.

    I believe that companies have to pay NARIC to certify them…

    • Thank you so much for commenting. The NARIC guidance is a disgrace.

      I agree that students should not be punished for having been put through ACE. At the same time, it is not kind to give students a place on a course for which they are ill prepared. Fortunately, in this case, it worked out well. On this blog I also hear from students who failed at university because they were not equipped to cope by their ICCE education.

      The problem is that the ICCE is so badly designed it does not give adequate evidence about a student’s readiness for undergraduate study. It’s an educational problem first and foremost, not a religious one. Sadly, I can’t get much traction on that issue, because the public aren’t interested in education.

      • Exactly- that was our reservation about the student in that case and I do wonder how they got on in the end. I’m sure it was a steep learning curve for them, especially in the area of critical thinking. However they obviously managed to convince the admissions tutor they had the right stuff. We would have recommended a foundation/access course otherwise.

        So much of this is dependent on the individual student though, a bright student who has an opportunity to work independently outside the narrow confines of the curriculum can make themselves university ready (for specific arts courses at least) despite the less than ideal content of the programme. Unfortunately though that does not apply to the majority, and of course it seems to totally prevent students taking scientific courses at a higher level.

        Assessing readiness for undergraduate study in tough and it is difficult for universities when NARIC guidance can’t be relied on. There are other international qualifications that the majority of universities feel are assessed too low/too high by NARIC and so they make offers based on their own experiences with the students. In this case though the number of applicants is so small the universities haven’t got their own data so have to trust that NARIC have done their job properly. As far as i can recall none of the issues with the curriculum were mentioned in the NARIC report.

  3. revoliverharrison

    Aren’t NARIC a public body / govt dept / quango type thing? Do they receive taypayers’ money? Do they work and/or speak on behalf of the govt? If so, their funding and findings should be 100% transparent and available for scrutiny. (Unless it’s a matter of National Security of course.) Can’t you do a FOI request on their IECC report?

    • I believe they are a private company who have the government contract for international qualification equivalence. I agree their findings should be available for public scrutiny but I believe they have managed to duck out of FOI requests due to ‘commercial sensitivity’.

      The fact that ACE paid for the report in the first place just makes the refusal to relase the report more suspect IMO.

    • Naric is outsourced and run by a private copmany, ECCTIS Ltd. That means they’re not subject to Freedom of Information.

  4. Some interesting comments, Anon. I think the family of the student plays a much more important role than the school/curriculum. If the parents buy into ACE wholesale, it either leads to some form of rebellion or a robot. Or perhaps a mixture of the two. I’m not a psychologist so I don’t know. One area where ACE simply cannot go wrong is maths and certain logical sciences. The right answer is the right answer – as everything else in life is for them.

    Mr Clare.

    • If by logical sciences you mean physics, Mr Clare, then I don’t agree. I showed some physics PACEs to a physics teacher and a working physicist recently, and they were deeply unimpressed. Out of date terminology, factual inaccuracies, and garbled explanations were a few of the things they cited.

      It’s true that it’s hard to screw up maths, but some of the explanations in the PACEs are dire.

      I also think the family of the student might play a big role in the students overall attitude and open-mindedness, but if ‘good’ families are trusting the curriculum to supply a good education, the child can still wind up heavily disadvantaged.

  5. Spotted you being mentioned in the back of Private Eye today, well done!

  6. Thanks for interesting response, Jonny.

    I know nothing about maths and science – I’m a secondary school English teacher – but assumed that they couldn’t go far wrong in such subjects – unlike the ‘English’ ‘curriculum’. (*Sarcastic use of single quotes, obviously.)


    Mr Clare.

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