Winterbourne International Academy parent Susie Wilkinson has submitted a formal complaint to the Regional Schools Commissioner regarding the change to the status of the school should Oasis take over.
Currently WIA is an academy with no registered religious character. Should it be re-brokered to Oasis it will be become a “school with a religious character”. This means the school will be allowed to select pupils by religion (although Oasis don’t current do this) and to hire and dismiss staff on religious grounds.
In addition Oasis typically have paid chaplains in school at all times. They set out to make the school a “church hub” and purposefully set out to include religious teaching into all areas of school life.
This is a big change for WIA.
A complaint first, then a petition
Susie explains, “The 1st action on any challenge is to raise a complaint. Through Facebook I asked the parents’ group about making a group complaint to the school. This would have been to complain about the action of the TRFA Trust choosing Oasis as one of the 3 MATs putting in a bid.”
“At the demo, I spoke to one of the councillors and the MP Jack Lopresti about this idea and the correct route to follow. They said ‘forget the school’s complaints process and complain straight to the RSC’.”
“So I have! And I’ve posted the complaint to change.org to collect as many signatures as possible to give it extra weight.”
Not against faith
“I’m not against any faith”, Susie points out, “I think that to have a faith in your life is a wonderful thing, I have spiritual beliefs of my own and try to live a good life – and looking at some of the work Oasis do with housing, overseas etc., they obviously do some good things.”
But even so there are problems with Oasis’ intentions regarding religion at WIA.
Susie goes on to explain her objections.
- Parents and pupils have not been given any information about Oasis and it’s faith activities in schools
- I did not sign up to send my kids to a school with a religious approach (this one is really big for me personally). If I wanted to send my children to a faith school I would have done.
- I do not want a church on WIA premises. Or at Yate. Or in Woodlands Primary. We have quite a few churches in the area already. More churches than secondary schools anyway!
- I am not comfortable with a fully-paid up Chaplain on school premises.
- And Oasis are using a legal loophole to operate in the way that they do (see below)
You can sign the petition at the change.org website.
“Even if you think it’s a good idea to include Christianity in the day-to-day education of your children, you should still think about signing this complaint”, writes Susie, “because it will help to stop Oasis. And that is what we are all united in trying to do.”
“If you’d like anymore explanation of anything raised here, please do contact me”, she adds. Susie’s contact details, and much more information, are in her full letter which you can read here.