Religion in SEN residential schools

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Arran90
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This question relates to a residential secondary school for children with SEN that operated during the 1980s and early 1990s. It closed in 1995.

The school was only open to children who had a statement of SEN and their local authority had approved of the child attending the school. It was not open to the public like most independent schools are.

It was a public private partnership. Privately owned and run as a business but state funded. Local authorities paid the fees for children to attend the school.

It was not affiliated with any particular church or religion.

The school demanded that all children had to attend church services every Sunday morning. The list of school rules on the wall of the deputy headmaster's office also included a statement about all children have to attend church on Sunday. I have not seen this list of school rules.

The school prospectus stated "On Sundays all boys are accompanied to Church. The Roman Catholics go to their church while the remainder separate (arithmetically not demoninationally!) to support the local Anglican and Baptist Churches" but does not say anything about children who follow other religions or none at all. I have seen this prospectus.

Parents were not consulted about their child's religion when starting at the school and neither was there a consent form for church services.

Questions:

1. Exactly which piece of legislation governed religion in SEN residential schools at the time?

2. Was the school acting unlawfully?
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Doones
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:iiam:
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nulli tertius
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(Original post by Arran90)
This question relates to a residential secondary school for children with SEN that operated during the 1980s and early 1990s. It closed in 1995.

The school was only open to children who had a statement of SEN and their local authority had approved of the child attending the school. It was not open to the public like most independent schools are.

It was a public private partnership. Privately owned and run as a business but state funded. Local authorities paid the fees for children to attend the school.

It was not affiliated with any particular church or religion.

The school demanded that all children had to attend church services every Sunday morning. The list of school rules on the wall of the deputy headmaster's office also included a statement about all children have to attend church on Sunday. I have not seen this list of school rules.

The school prospectus stated "On Sundays all boys are accompanied to Church. The Roman Catholics go to their church while the remainder separate (arithmetically not demoninationally!) to support the local Anglican and Baptist Churches" but does not say anything about children who follow other religions or none at all. I have seen this prospectus.

Parents were not consulted about their child's religion when starting at the school and neither was there a consent form for church services.

Questions:

1. Exactly which piece of legislation governed religion in SEN residential schools at the time?

2. Was the school acting unlawfully?
1 You cannot generalise. You have to take a particular school and work out under what funding regime it was operating.

2 You are viewing this through 21st Century eyes. One principle that is absolutely crystal clear is that at any school where education was being paid for by the public purse (as opposed to solely out of charitable funds), there was a parental opt-out from religious education. But this is what I mean about 21st century eyes. It was no-one's obligation to tell the parents that this opt-out existed. If the parent opted-out the school must give effect to it but if they didn't (either because they didn't wish to or because they didn't know) then the school was under a duty to provide the pupil with worship.

Read sections 25-30, 33 and 100 of the Education Act 1944 and Regulations 19, 20 and 25 of the Direct Grant Schools Regulations 1959 but you will be none the wiser as to which of these applied to the school you were interested in.
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Arran90
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(Original post by nulli tertius)
1 You cannot generalise. You have to take a particular school and work out under what funding regime it was operating.
To the best of my knowledge it was funded by the local authorities that the students originated from and each local authority paid the fees for each student every term that they attended. The local authority where the school physically resided (Suffolk) did not pay any money to the school unless there were students from Suffolk. Therefore the amount of funding that the school received was very proportional to the number of students who attended.

2 You are viewing this through 21st Century eyes. One principle that is absolutely crystal clear is that at any school where education was being paid for by the public purse (as opposed to solely out of charitable funds), there was a parental opt-out from religious education. But this is what I mean about 21st century eyes. It was no-one's obligation to tell the parents that this opt-out existed. If the parent opted-out the school must give effect to it but if they didn't (either because they didn't wish to or because they didn't know) then the school was under a duty to provide the pupil with worship.
So, was the wording in the prospectus 100% lawful in the 1980s even if it is technically very deceptive and misleading?
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nulli tertius
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(Original post by Arran90)
To the best of my knowledge it was funded by the local authorities that the students originated from and each local authority paid the fees for each student every term that they attended. The local authority where the school physically resided (Suffolk) did not pay any money to the school unless there were students from Suffolk. Therefore the amount of funding that the school received was very proportional to the number of students who attended.



So, was the wording in the prospectus 100% lawful in the 1980s even if it is technically very deceptive and misleading?
It is still very difficult to work out precisely the basis under which it operated. There may have been top up money from the Department for Education or the NHS.

Even asking the question "is it lawful" for the period before 1983 is probably an anachronism. Before modern judicial review was invented in 1983, the first question would be is there something on which one of the Prerogative Orders, Certiorari, Mandamus, Prohibition would bite. A court might well say that a prospectus had no legal effect and so could not be the subject of a legal challenge, however inaccurate it was.

There is an important caveat to this. When faced with complaints about historic events, the courts today sometimes do and sometimes do not read back modern standards; and sometimes they do a third thing which is to pretend in the teeth of the evidence that nothing has changed (the judicial enquiry into Saville at the BBC was very guilty of this).
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Arran90
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(Original post by nulli tertius)
It is still very difficult to work out precisely the basis under which it operated. There may have been top up money from the Department for Education or the NHS.
I'm not aware of any top up money from elsewhere but I will have to investigate for confirmation.

Even asking the question "is it lawful" for the period before 1983 is probably an anachronism.
I'm more interested for the period from 1985 to 1995 although the school was established some time in the 1970s. The prospectus I have appears to be from the late 1980s judging from the dates of examination results. I was verbally informed that it was still being sent out in 1993.
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nulli tertius
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(Original post by Arran90)
I'm not aware of any top up money from elsewhere but I will have to investigate for confirmation.



I'm more interested for the period from 1985 to 1995 although the school was established some time in the 1970s. The prospectus I have appears to be from the late 1980s judging from the dates of examination results. I was verbally informed that it was still being sent out in 1993.
There was a circular in 1989 following the restatement of the duty to provide collective worship in the Educational Reform Act 1988. By then, the problem was largely seen as the absence and not the presence of daily worship.

By the end of this period I would be very surprised not to have proper consultation whereas I would have been surprised 10-15 years earlier. Education becomes more bureaucratic. The actual amount of paper my parents received through my schooling in the 1970s and early 1980s was minimal. Certainly my parents were not asked about children in religious worship, but they would gave known that they could have withdrawn me.. It is also difficult to overestimate the power of the local Catholic priest. It would be him, not his parishioners, who would be insisting that they withdraw their children. We didn't have a Hindu in our year group until secondary school but he attended Christian religious assemblies.
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Arran90
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(Original post by nulli tertius)
There was a circular in 1989 following the restatement of the duty to provide collective worship in the Educational Reform Act 1988. By then, the problem was largely seen as the absence and not the presence of daily worship.
I believe that the prospectus was written before this.

The collective daily worship applied to school assemblies and not church services on Sundays unless anybody knows otherwise. Was there any exemptions for SEN schools or extra legislation for residential schools? I find it bizarre that nothing is mentioned in the prospectus about non-Christian religions although Catholics attend a separate church from the Protestants.
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nulli tertius
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(Original post by Arran90)
I believe that the prospectus was written before this.

The collective daily worship applied to school assemblies and not church services on Sundays unless anybody knows otherwise. Was there any exemptions for SEN schools or extra legislation for residential schools? I find it bizarre that nothing is mentioned in the prospectus about non-Christian religions although Catholics attend a separate church from the Protestants.
The people who ran the school had the right to say that rugby or ballet or attending Church was compulsory but there was a very hard won parental opt-out from being required to attend Church services (section 25 (3) Education Act 1944 but it dates from earlier legislation). There were regulations about Special Schools made under section 33 but there is no doubt that the same principles applied.

If this prospectus dates from the 1970s, people of non-Christian heritage were in very limited areas. There were 240 children in my council estate primary school in the 1970s in a city which had had its first race riots in 1958 and to the best of my knowledge our religious minorities comprised two Methodists (one the son of the Methodist minister) and a Roman Catholic. I think the half Romanian and the half German lads were both CofE.
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Doones
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(Original post by nulli tertius)
The people who ran the school had the right to say that rugby or ballet or attending Church was compulsory but there was a very hard won parental opt-out from being required to attend Church services (section 25 (3) Education Act 1944 but it dates from earlier legislation). There were regulations about Special Schools made under section 33 but there is no doubt that the same principles applied.

If this prospectus dates from the 1970s, people of non-Christian heritage were in very limited areas. There were 240 children in my council estate primary school in the 1970s in a city which had had its first race riots in 1958 and to the best of my knowledge our religious minorities comprised two Methodists (one the son of the Methodist minister) and a Roman Catholic. I think the half Romanian and the half German lads were both CofE.
As an atheist boarder at a CofI school we had to attend Sunday services. My family were theoretically Presbyterian so I, and a motley crew of a dozen or so others, got to walk to the far end of town to the Presbyterian Church armed with tuppence for the collection.

There was a busy sweet shop on the way (shockingly open on a Sunday)...

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nulli tertius
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(Original post by Doones)
As an atheist boarder at a CofI school we had to attend Sunday services. My family were theoretically Presbyterian so I, and a motley crew of a dozen or so others, got to walk to the far end of town to the Presbyterian Church armed with tuppence for the collection.

There was a busy sweet shop on the way (shockingly open on a Sunday)...

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I was at university with a lad who did when younger did get asked the question in the wonderful way of NI inclusiveness:- "Are you a Protestant Hindu or a Catholic Hindu"
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Doones
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(Original post by nulli tertius)
I was at university with a lad who did when younger did get asked the question in the wonderful way of NI inclusiveness:- "Are you a Protestant Hindu or a Catholic Hindu"
That's a true story :yep:

And being atheist I was shot at by both sides...
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nulli tertius
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(Original post by Doones)
That's a true story :yep:
He is Irish. He is allowed his tall stories. Who am I to cast doubt upon them? I have just looked him up. It looks as if he project manages financial IT these days.
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Arran90
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(Original post by nulli tertius)
If this prospectus dates from the 1970s, people of non-Christian heritage were in very limited areas.
The school had a catchment area of the east and south east portion of England including all of Greater London. There were definitely plenty of Greater London students there but I do not have any details about the religions of them.

It's possible that the statement in the prospectus about church services was a serious turn off to parents of children who followed non-Christian religions or even those who were not religious, which could have impacted on the religious profile of the students who attended the school.
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