Voluntary Aided (ie State) school censors GCSE science papers! WTAF

(39 Posts)
AuntyEntropy Sat 12-Oct-13 21:37:11

I know that it's bad form to link and run in an OP, and you're meant to express your own viewpoint in an insightful way, but I'm struggling to get past "WTAF! They censored the GCSE exam papers!"

www.theguardian.com/education/2013/oct/11/jewish-school-censored-gcses-evolution

For those who CBA to follow the link (fair enough), this is an Orthodox Jewish girls school, and there does not appear to be any room for misunderstanding - they blacked out the questions relating to evolution.

NoComet Mon 14-Oct-13 01:30:24

Freedom for young people to form their own opinions religious, moral and political is fundamental to education in a liberal democratic society.

So no I'm not happy at a state funded school behaving this way.

Personally I believe all faith schools, state and private should strongly be discouraged.

Caitlin17 Mon 14-Oct-13 01:53:44

This seems such a self evidently wrong thing to do I can't see why anyone would defend it.

I'm inclined to agree with you about faith schools. The poster defending this said the parents pay taxes sobwhy can't they have the school they want. Well most of us pay taxes, but parents who choose to practice a particular faith are getting a better deal than parents who dont follow a faith since the faith parents have the choice of the ordinary state school as well as the faith school. To turn her argument on its head she's asking certain parents to fund a school their children can never use.
Oh I know that is simplistic as we don't hypothecate tax, but I don't think the "paying tax" argument makes it all OK.

claig Mon 14-Oct-13 02:08:09

I have just read an interesting article about the Haredi in the Daily Telegraph. From reading it, my guess is that Haredi children would probably choose their faith school over a state school. Most Haredi schools are private, this particular one is state-funded.

People in Liverpool fund state schools in Devon that they can't use and Haredi parents fund state schools that they would maybe not wish to use.

I am wary of the State interfering in the traditions of communities and how they choose to live.

www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/8326339/Inside-the-private-world-of-Londons-ultra-Orthodox-Jews.html

claig Mon 14-Oct-13 02:17:26

Apparently, the Haredi community in Belgium is under pressure to teach evolution in their schools

"Earlier this summer, the Flemish government issued decrees that would force both state-funded and private Jewish schools to teach mandatory curriculums that include evolutionary biology, human reproduction and other subjects considered taboo by Antwerp’s 18,000 haredi Jews."

www.jta.org/2013/08/14/news-opinion/world/antwerps-haredi-schools-forced-to-chose-between-censorship-and-their-subsidies

SilverApples Mon 14-Oct-13 07:35:05

If it's a state school, then it should come under the same expectations of teaching the NC as any other VA funded school.
Tampering with the exams is illegal and should have been unnecessary, at 15 the girls should have been able to look at the questions and think 'Can't answer that one, haven't been taught about it' without needing any censorship.
I wonder what their last OFSTED inspection found in relation to subject coverage?

sparklekitty Mon 14-Oct-13 07:40:19

Absolutely fine if you want to send your children to a very conservatively religious school, fine if the school doesn't want to teach evolution as long as the parents are aware.

NOT fine for them to be state funded. All state funded schools should be taught the same thing, level playing field and all that.

Very worrying they had the papers open long enough to censor them all though!

marriedinwhiteisback Mon 14-Oct-13 07:43:55

When I was at school there were questions on the Eng Lit paper about Romeo and Juliet and Pride and Prejudice. We had only scratched the surfaces of that play and book. We had focused on Great Expectationa and Henry IV Part I in the Upper Fifth and were told to disregard the other questions. Blacking them out might have been helpful for the handful of numpties who answered the wrong questions.

I think the question is more one of whether it is allowed to delete a question from a public exam paper than about the rights and wrongs of part of the curriculum not being taught.

Caitlin17 Mon 14-Oct-13 22:33:08

The comment about parents in Liverpool funding schools in Devon which they can't use is ridiculous. What I meant was 2 schools in your catchment being paid for by your council tax only one of which is available for your children but the other parent has the choice of both.

edam Mon 14-Oct-13 22:59:19

claig - actually you could just as well say the pilgrim fathers went to America because they were frustrated that they weren't allowed to persecute other people. They wanted to force everyone else to live by their rules.

As for evolution 'only' being a theory - so is gravity. Yet I can't see any pigs floating... theory in everyday speech is different from theory in a scientific sense, which means a rational explanation supported by a body of proof that stands up to testing.

englishteacher78 Tue 15-Oct-13 07:27:30

The problem in this argument seems to be the different meanings of theory. The Theory of evolution doesn't mean that it's just an idea Darwin had with no evidence. It's the best fit with current evidence.
Also, perfectly possible to teach it in Science with a 'Scientist believe....' they don't have to believe it they have to learn it.
My RSS students don't believe all the major religions (and some minor ones) but they learn about them!
People who can't cope with their faith being challenged annoy me a little.

nkf Tue 15-Oct-13 07:41:09

I expect the exam board will have to act in this. You can't tamper with exam papers.

Greythorne Tue 15-Oct-13 07:49:41

A scientific theory means something which has evidence to support it and no scientific evidence against it.

As soon as somebody discovers bunny rabbits in the pre-Cambrian, the theory of evolution will be blown out if the water.

But so far nobody has come up with anything that disproves it.

Something with conclusive evidence is a fact.

Something with no conclusive evidence but lots if supporting evidence and crucially, no evidence against is a theory.

Theory does not mean vague idea that might be right or wrong.0

pointyfangs Tue 15-Oct-13 15:15:44

Thanks, Greythorne. I sometimes find it difficult to believe that there are still educated literate people out there who do not understand the scientific definition of a theory. Good explanation. I'd suggest, claig that you look up the works of Karl Popper - he's very clear on the idea that you can only disprove (falsify) a theory (i.e. a bunny rabbit in the Precambrian), not prove it, and that a valid theory stands until it is disproved.

The simplest example is the hypothesis that all swans are white. You could go through life and have this be true for you simply if you never come across a black swan. Obviously you'd have to accept the idea that all documentaries and images involving black swans were faked, but that's a small sacrifice to make. Until the day you go to your local pond and tehre it is - a black swan. Theory falsified, time to build a new one.

I went to a state school in Holland and had a girl in my class who belonged to a very Fundamentalist Christian group who did not believe in the validity of the Theory of Evolution. She became very upset in biology class when we started the topic. The teacher calmly told her and her parents that they were not required to believe it, they merely had to be able to produce it for the exams. Can't see why this school doesn't take the same tack. If they were private and free to follow their own curriculum it wuold be different, but they chose to take tax payers' money and that comes with responsibilities.

camilamoran Fri 18-Oct-13 10:01:41

If children from a religious tradition that rejects evolution are at a state school, I wouldn't want them to be forced to accept evolution. But I would want them to be taught two things:

(i) That it's not 'just a theory' that you can choose to ignore while accepting the rest of science.

(ii) That it's not a question of science versus religion. There are many people who believe in God and also believe in science. There are many religious positions you can take up on the relationship between scripture and experience of the world (which is basically what this debate is about).

Then they can decide themselves what to believe.

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