Weston Community Primary School in the Isle of Wight, the only primary without a religious character in the west of the island, has avoided Council-threatened closure. The British Humanist Association (BHA), which worked with local groups on the campaign to keep the school open, has branded the result a ‘victory for inclusive education’.
Against the wishes of many parents and those in the local community, Isle of Wight Council had proposed to close the school over that of the other two local schools, both ‘faith’ schools.
However, rather ironically given that ‘faith’ Academies and Free Schools are more religiously discriminatory than other types of school, Weston has managed to avoid closure by obtaining an Academy Order from the Department for Education and therefore placing itself out of control of the Council. The move follows a well-orchestrated local campaign against the plans, which the BHA was the first national group to support. The BHA contacted its members and supporters in the area, enlisting their aid and provided advice and assistance to local campaigners.
BHA Faith Schools Campaigner Richy Thompson commented, ‘This important result represents a major victory for inclusive education in the west of the Isle of Wight. Proposals for Weston’s closure represented blatant discrimination against those not of the Christian faith, and had the council gone ahead with their plans, parents who are not Anglican or Catholic, or who want an inclusive education for their children, would have had to drive 12 miles each way to reach the nearest community school – 240 miles a week.
‘It is important that our schools are equally open to the whole of their local communities, regardless of religion or belief, so that children can be educated together and grow up knowing those who hold beliefs different from their own.’
Local parent Jeremy Cangialosi, who has three children at the school and who helped run the local campaign, said, ‘I don’t think our confidence would have held up so well without all the support and advice we got from the BHA, Accord Coalition and all the other members and individuals who stood up for the campaign – thank you.’