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June 28, 2007

Losing Focus

Although I’ve written about the activities of the Exclusive Brethren sect in Australia and New Zealand, I hadn’t realized how well-established it is in Britain, too. There, as in Australia and New Zealand, the sect is targeting kids: the Brethren’s Focus Learning Trust already runs 37 private schools, and is now angling to back one of Tony Blair’s flagship city academies.

Britain’s clueless minister for schools, Lord Adonis*—who before his baffling enoblement was plain Andrew Adonis, an equally clueless newspaper reporter—has made it clear that he won’t rule out such a move. Which is hardly surprising, given his embrace of creationists and other religious nuts. And Ofsted, Britain’s alleged schools watchdog, just loves Focus Learning. As the Telegraph notes, in 2005 Ofsted praised the trust for providing “good support to its schools” and a “generally good” quality of teaching. In a country where “teaching standards” is an oxymoron, that’s high praise.

Pity, then, that Adonis and Ofsted didn’t do their homework. Perhaps they would have picked up on the Exclusive Brethren’s lengthy record of child abuse, money laundering, and political meddling.

But then again, perhaps they wouldn’t.

[*Adonis may yet lose his job as a result of Gordon Brown’s Cabinet reshuffle, so there is hope.]

Posted by Stephen at 6:49 PM in Education | Politics | Religion + cults | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

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