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Can you get into university with an ICCE Advanced Certificate?

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.

International Certificate of Christian Education ICCE

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.

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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.

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Lies, damned lies, and incompetence

More Accelerated Christian Education schools, more misleading advertising. On the Advertising Standards Agency website today, an ‘informally resolved case’ is listed, related to Dewsbury Gospel Church trading as Branch Christian School. Branch Christian School uses the Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) curriculum. Rather than preparing its students for recognised exams like GCSEs and A Levels, it offers its graduates the International Certificate of Christian Education (ICCE).

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It will come as a surprise to no one to learn that I was the complainant in this case. It’s a similar story to the last time I pointed out that some ACE schools were misleading parents about the nature of their qualifications, but in this case, it’s more extreme.

When I complained to the ASA about this in July, the Branch Christian School prospectus claimed that the ICCE was recognised by the Government’s National Framework for Qualifications (NFQ).

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There is no such thing as the NFQ.

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Yes, some ACE schools WERE using misleading advertising

Five weeks ago, this blog asked “Are ACE schools using misleading advertising?” Now, according to the Advertising Standards Agency, the answer—in at least one case—is yes. To explain why this ruling is so important, though, we need to travel back in time to when I was at school.

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Are ACE schools using misleading advertising?

The world has learned that ACE schools teach that evolution is a lie, wives must submit to their husbands, being gay is a sin, and abortion is murder. But for some ACE graduates, that might not be the most damaging thing.

During the Newsnight investigation into Accelerated Christian Education, Anjana Ahuja noticed that many ACE schools were claiming that you could get into university with their (unaccredited) qualification, the ICCE (International Certificate of Christian Education). So she contacted some of the universities alleged to have accepted the ICCE for university entrance, and of those who replied, none of them said they accepted the ICCE.

Imperial College London: Does not recognise the ICCE. (Image credit: Man Vyi, via Wikimedia Commons.)

So can you get into university with an ACE education? Despite claims that more than 50 UK universities have accepted ICCE graduates, this is obviously still a controversial question among parents at ACE schools. The ICCE board is at pains to insist you can, and many ACE schools’ websites describe it as a “university entrance qualification”. Actually, it’s not as easy as they make out. If students have been accepted, often it’s because the universities made an exception to their usual policy, or because the students had additional, recognised qualifications, and it was these that gave them access to higher education.

The reality of the situation is that UK students leave ACE school with no officially recognised qualification whatsoever.

Here’s Anjana with the full story:
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33 jaw-droppingly bad multiple-choice questions from Accelerated Christian Education

“It’s the crapness!” yelled my mother, who almost never says anything more offensive than ‘oh blow’.

“It’s not the doctrine or the terrible science or the politics. It’s the… CRAPNESS!

In hindsight, leaving three boxes of Packets of Accelerated Christian Education (PACEs) at her house was perhaps not the kindest thing I could have done.

“It’s a bubble!” she continued, warming to her rant. “It’s stuck in a 1950s timewarp and it’s all so twee. Do you know what I read in a science PACE earlier? There was a lesson about the first heart transplant, and then it said have you had your heart transplanted by Jesus?

Seeing my mum rant about ACE might be the funniest thing I’ve ever seen; if I could capture her on a podcast I’d blast the Pod Delusion into next week. But she’s got a point. What is staggering about ACE  is not the creationism or the conservatism – everyone knows fundamentalists believe that. It’s the fact that it’s just so obviously rubbish, and yet, in the UK at least, school inspectors seem to let this pass without comment.

The most obvious way ACE is crap is in its multiple choice questions (of which there are thousands). Here, for your general amusement, are some I found yesterday. I make no claim that these are the best (or worst) of it. They’re just a few I dug up in a cursory jaunt through the PACEs I have. I could go on much, much longer.

This is what happens when you leave education to people for whom religious conversion is everything and learning is a distant afterthought.

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I quit

Happy birthday Leaving Fundamentalism.

It’s been a good first year for this blog, capped off by a successful past week. My post Five jobs a Creationist can’t do was the 23rd most viewed post on WordPress.com on Monday.


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This contributed to the blog hitting #6 on WordPress’s chart of fastest growing blogs:

Screen shot 2013-04-16 at 00.09.52I will be celebrating my success by retiring from blogging about ACE. Before I shut up on the subject, please read my last post. Read the rest of this entry

UK NARIC Issues Statement on Accelerated Christian Education

This week’s Times Educational Supplement contains a new article on NARIC’s approval of the International Certificate of Christian Education.

Outrage as qualifications that dispute Darwinism get green light

They confidently claim that the Loch Ness monster disproves Darwinism and that there is clear proof of creationism. But that has not stopped a set of controversial Christian qualifications – used by dozens of British private schools – being described as comparable to international O and A levels.

The International Certificate of Christian Education (ICCE) has been rubber-stamped by a government agency, even though it is based on a curriculum that says the Bible is the “final authority” on scientific matters. It has prompted outrage from secular campaigners, while schools following the curriculum have come to its defence, saying that it is “academically very sound”.

I’ve already blogged about this, pointing out that NARIC’s decision contradicts the academic consensus, that it appears there may have been a conflict of interests (ICCE paid for its own benchmarking), and that the ACE curriculum which ICCE uses so extensively uses worthless assessment procedures.

In response to this, and my campaign against Accelerated Christian Education, Naric has posted a statement on its website which might as well be addressed directly to me. This is good news. Clearly the letters readers of this blog have been sending are making a difference. Keep it up. Here’s my commentary on NARIC’s statement. Read the rest of this entry

Accelerated Christian Education vs. GCSEs: A Case Study

If you’re new here, a quick catch up on the story so far: A UK government agency has said that qualifications based on a fundamentalist curriculum are comparable to O-level and A-level standard. These qualifications teach racismlies and more lies as fact. They use meaningless methods of assessment, and teach political propaganda. Many Christians believe the system is wrong on theological grounds.

UK Naric has benchmarked the ICCE General Certificate as comparable to O-level standard. Of course, since hardly anyone takes O-levels, most readers will interpret this to mean “GCSE equivalent.” Now, wouldn’t it be interesting if you could compare this directly? Wouldn’t it be revealing if we had, say, a student that had completed both the ICCE General Certificate and GCSEs?

We have someone. Me.

I realise this is a frustratingly limited data set. I’m not going to make the case that my sample size of one gives an accurate generalisation to the whole population. But since I am quite probably the only person in the world who has done both, I think it’s a worthwhile comparison.

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The Strange Case of UK Naric and Accelerated Christian Education

Following Monday’s revelations, this is another very important blog post. Again, please share this where you can; this is important news. There’s a “too long; didn’t read” bullet point list at the end for the terminally lazy or pressed-for-time.

As I’ve already written, UK Naric has approved the International Certificate of Christian Education (ICCE), advanced certificate, as equivalent to A-level standard. This is surprising because, until now, every academic review of the curriculum has been extremely critical. Even Christians agree on this.

Naric said in 2009 their report would be made available on request. Since then, they have refused to make it public, saying it is an “in-confidence commercial document.”

Naric’s first benchmarking study was paid for by a school that uses the Accelerated Christian Education curriculum, on which ICCE is based. ICCE Ltd paid for the second benchmarking itself. Naric has not answered questions on whether this presents a conflict of interests.

This all seems unsatisfactory. If Naric’s reports can’t be made public, how can they be properly scrutinised for fairness and accuracy? This is also a loss to the academic community, who could use these reports in further research. In the case of ICCE, it is an acute loss, since there has been no independent research into the qualification whatsoever.

Naric, run for the government by private company ECCTIS Ltd., is not subject to Freedom of Information requests. It seems to me that this is a problem. The incentive to make a profit is at odds with the need for transparency. Naric has refused to answer my questions on how it benchmarked ICCE, saying the time required to answer would cost them too much money.

Here’s a history of the academic community’s research on Accelerated Christian Education, the fundamentalist curriculum at the heart of ICCE. As you’ll see, no one’s ever had anything good to say about it. And I’m not leaving stuff out that contradicts my views; there just isn’t much pro-ACE feeling in the academic world. Read the rest of this entry