Are you a student studying the International Certificate of Christian Education? Are you hoping to go to university? If so, I have some bad news for you. It will probably be harder to get into higher education than Christian Education Europe and your school told you. The ICCE claims an extensive list of universities that have accepted the Advanced Certificate for university entrance. After looking through universities’ responses to Freedom of Information requests, however, it appears that a number of them have not accepted the qualification at all.
Update 20 November 2014: UWE’s (University of the West of England, Bristol) response has been added.
The ICCE website lists universities which, it claims, have accepted graduates of the ICCE and/or NCSC (National Christian Schools Certificate, the old name for ICCE). But when Anjana Ahuja spoke to some of these universities as part of the BBC Newsnight investigation, none of them said they actually accepted the ICCE as an entrance certificate. In most cases, the universities had accepted ICCE graduates, but only after they had studied additional qualifications elsewhere. It was those qualifications—A Levels, International Baccalaureates—that gained these students their university places. None of them recognised the ICCE as a standard entrance qualification.
Anjana only spoke to six universities, but this was enough to make me curious. In how many other instances was the ICCE’s advertising misleading? In July, I asked Richy Thompson to put in Freedom of Information requests to every university on the ICCE’s list. He contacted 56 universities, of which 50 responded. It turned out the ICCE website was quite misleading.
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.
Taken together, these two developments are very bad news for CEE’s flagship product, the ICCE qualification.
Previously on this blog, we’ve looked at the history of spanking in Accelerated Christian Education schools and asked whether it still happens today. Sources closer to ACE than me tell me that paddling is a thing of the past in UK schools that teach the ACE curriculum. But they’re still selling spanking manuals.
Christian Education Europe (CEE) has UK contracts to distribute two ranges of products. One is ACE. The other is Growing Families International (GFI), a series of child-rearing manuals by Gary and Marie Ezzo. In preparing this post, I tried to think of a way to convey to you in a single sentence just how problematic the Ezzos’ teachings are. And I have it. But first some background.
Have you heard of James Dobson? Within the Christian Right, Dobson is a voice to rival Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell; he was particularly influential on the Reagan administration. Dobson’s books on discipline, The Strong-Willed Child and Dare to Discipline, are pretty big on spanking and other ‘creative’ punishments themselves, and you should ask some of the kids who were raised with Dobson’s methods if they think they were abusive.
So you’re in the picture. Dobson is a Christian Right advocate of authoritarian, disciplinarian parenting.
And here comes my sentence that says it all about the Ezzos:
The organisation James Dobson founded, Focus on the Family, has publicly denounced the Ezzos’ teachings.
This is a guest post. The author has chosen to remain nameless. The title (mine) does the post no justice; this is one of the most powerful ACE survivor stories we’ve had and I want everyone to read it.
I was a student at Maranatha Christian School in the UK from 2003 – 2005. I worked at an ACE school in Moscow, Russia in 2007 and at Christian Education Europe from 2007-2009. I also attended for many years a church overseen by then-director of Christian Education Europe, Arthur Roderick.
I started ACE “late” at age thirteen after spending the first parts of my schooling as an atheist in mainstream schools. I have little idea what drew my parents to Maranatha, but I suspect the low teacher-pupil ratio was one of the main reasons.
Having always been a “teacher’s pet” Maranatha was a whole new experience for me. Because I was not yet a Christian at that point and had little spiritual knowledge I was branded a “troublemaker.” In my first year at Maranatha I was given detentions and parents’ meetings for blaspheming, dying my hair, refusing to sing hymns during “opening exercise,” my lack of the “submissive nature” we were taught was expected of women, and even once for wearing trousers instead of a skirt to an earned “non-uniform” day.
I was harassed by teachers and students daily – eventually attempting suicide shortly before my fourteenth birthday. This further branded me as an ungodly troublemaker, particularly as I was referred to a child psychologist. Although the head teacher was not pleased and offered both prayer and a referral to a “Christian psychologist” as alternatives, my mother thankfully refused. I was, however, forbidden from returning to the (or any) doctor after his practical suggestions included removing me from Maranatha completely.
It’s always nice to be talked about. It’s particularly lovely when you’ve been campaigning against an organisation for two years and their public strategy has been to pretend nothing is happening. Well, mostly anyway.
But now Christian Education Europe’s Arthur Roderick has sent an email to CEE’s member schools discussing how they intend to deal with the menace that I present. It’s a fun read. Of course, Arthur doesn’t name me or link to any of the associated media coverage in his email. I presume he’d rather his customers didn’t read my blog. I, on the other hand, am all about the debate. I just think this is a conversation that needs to be had in public (not least because it’s one Arthur and other ACE teachers refused to have with me in private).
In that spirit, you should also check out ace-education.co.uk, a new blog by Christine Bradshaw which attempts to debunk many claims I’ve made about ACE (and quite a few I haven’t). Replies to posts like these will come soon. I realise that my linking to them will probably triple the number of people who see them, but like I said, I welcome the debate. Something CEE does not, as I will explain shortly.
Here’s Arthur’s letter. Since it’s online at a publicly available link, I have taken the liberty of reproducing it below. I know CEE are some of my most avid readers, so if they object, no doubt I will hear about it soon and have to replace the letter with a Jesus & Mo cartoon again. After the letter, I’ll tell you about some of my recent correspondence with Arthur and other people.
There seems to be a bit of a disparity between the facts and what some ACE teachers say. In this, my triumphant return to vlogging, I talk about Brenda Lewis, who seems incapable of getting her facts right when she talks in public.
CEE hits back! Earlier this month New Statesman published my article “Creationism and the ‘conspiracy’ of evolution: inside the UK’s evangelical schools“. Last week I received this email from Dr Greg Hibbins, general manager of Christian Education Europe (Accelerated Christian Education’s UK distributor):
Dear Mr Scaramanga
Please find attached my letter of response to your article in the New Statesman. I have sent it to the paper and also trust you will publish it in whole and unedited on your blog.
Dr Greg Hibbins
I am only too happy to oblige. Since my own article was quite widely read, I think it’s only fair that CEE gets a fair hearing, so please share this widely. Here it is (click on each page to enlarge):
Alright, now you’ve read it, here are my comments (and if CEE disagrees with anything I write here, they’re welcome to respond again. We can keep going until one of us gets bored).
To: The Editor- New Statesman
Re: You’re Article- Creationism/Jonny Scaramanga/05/02/2014
Off to a flying start.
From Fleetwood Today, 19/6/2010:
A TEACHER who molested a teenage girl more than 25 years ago has been put behind bars.
Graham Wilcock subjected his victim to numerous sexual assaults while he was a 25-year-old teaching assistant at Emmanuel Christian School in Fleetwood.
He would later become deputy head teacher in charge of the senior school.
The attacks spanned two years in the 1980s from when the girl was 13 to 15 years old.
His victim kept the assaults secret until the 1990s when there was an inquiry into his actions and he was sacked from the school but not barred from teaching.
Last year the woman – now in her 30s – contacted police after seeing a picture of her attacker and deciding she wanted the offences brought into the open.The 50-year-old was doing charity work in Romania when he was informed detectives wanted to speak to him regarding the abuse but returned to the UK to admit his guilt.
The school was the first in the UK to use Accelerated Christian Education (ACE), a method aimed at re-introducing Christian standards into the classroom.
For a few months now I have been in contact with a former employee of Christian Education Europe, the UK arm of Accelerated Christian Education. Christine Gregg was fired from CEE following a long period of being thoroughly taken advantage of. She is now keen to expose the inner workings of the company, in particular its abuse of staff, in-fighting, and breach of employment law. Bring it on.
Christine has finally published a detailed expose of Christian Education Europe, and it’s not pretty. The author has been in correspondence with me for a while. She has written to me that, although she knows many damning things about CEE, she was determined only to include things she could prove in this article. I’m confident this information is legit. You should go and read the whole thing. I’ve noticed, though, that statistically, my readers don’t click on links in anything like the volumes you read my posts (why is that?), so here are the highlights:
CEE broke the law to employ and sack staff
She claims that staff who cross Arthur Roderick have been fired, and this has been made to look like a resignation.
Turnover of staff is extremely high at the company. Mr Roderick doesn’t like anyone with a different opinion to him and if you don’t comply you will be sacked. This sacking may be disguised as resignation in some form or other. In my case I received a letter thanking me for a fictitious resignation during a nervous breakdown and marriage crisis. In the past I have seen people head hunted from all over the UK and indeed the world. They moved to Swindon with their family and then get promptly dropped at the will of Arthur Roderick. He fills his board room with people who will agree with him and if they don’t they get pushed.
Whilst I was there, one person was sacked for a supposedly gay relationship, another we were told wanted to go back to school, which was a total fabrication, another general manager was told his position was redundant and then another person was employed, a young boy pushed for getting together with a non-Christian whom he later married, the list is endless. Probably one of the worse cases was that of Alastair Kirk whom Arthur groomed and mentored to take the CEO position. He was given the job as well as Home-school Manager at a very young age without training or experience. This of course was never going to work and he and his long serving, loyal mother were both pushed out. No one speaks about what happened to them. They are afraid of being kicked out of the local Christian community as I have been. They are also told it is ungodly and not Christian like to criticise.
Meanwhile, in appointing a new CEO, they ignored employment law:
I absolutely pray that the Border Agency will investigate overseas appointees to CEE. Their current CEO was allowed immigration to work and live in the UK. The agency was told the position was advertised in the UK and no one qualified in this specialist area could be found. This is not true. There were many suitable applicants but the directors did not even read the CVS they submitted. This was because Arthur Roderick had wanted this particular person. The position was indeed advertised, but the company had no intention of employing any such applicant. Their employment of overseas students for no salary was stopped and a couple of them deported.