National Faith Schools Debate


Star student of Queen Mary’s College (QMC), Saul Irwin, will chair a national debate on the 16th September at QMC’s Central Studio at Cliddesden Road, RG21 3HF.

The question under debate will be whether it is appropriate for faith schools to be funded by the State, and with the active encouragement and financial support of government.

There are 17 faith schools in Basingstoke and Deane: 23% of our children already attend these schools, and more may well be coming on stream over the next few years. It raises fundamental questions about student selection procedures … About the right of schools to take a teachers’ religion into account for employment …. About how children are exposed to other beliefs and cultures … And even the potential for religious schools to radicalize …

The motion under debate will be “This house is of the view that state schools should not be faith schools”.

In support of the motion will be Andrew Copson, Chief Executive Officer of the British Humanist Association, and Marilyn Mason, former BHA Trustee with responsibility for education. Against the motion will be Maria Miller, MP for Basingstoke, and Father Mark Hogan, of St. Joseph’s parish in Basingstoke …

This is a free and open to the public as a community event. It begins at 7.30pm – 9.00pm.  For those who would like to talk about it afterwards the College bar will remain open till 10.00pm. You will also have a chance to have your say during the debate, and you will be told how to do that when you apply for your seat. This event is open to people from all points of view – and although seats are going fast, some are still available.

All you need to do is email and ask the event organiser to book a seat.  More than one seat booking can be made.

The motion for debate is that:

“This house is of the view that state schools should not be faith schools”.

Those participating are …

The Chair …

Saul IrwinSaul Irwin a student at Queen Mary’s College  (QMC).

Saul Irwin is studying Further Maths, History and Politics, and has aspirations to go to Oxford University to study Philosophy, Politics and Economics with the broader aim of a career in Politics He is very highly regarded at QMC, and is very much looking forward to this amazing opportunity of keeping some of the big beasts in the National Faith Schools debate in line …

Speaking for the motion …

Marylin MasonMarilyn Mason: Teacher for twenty years

Marilyn Mason become Education Officer for the British Humanist Association in 1998. Her job at the BHA, which lasted till 2006, included writing educational resources, advising teachers and parents, policy development and co-ordinating BHA education campaigns at a time when the government was supporting the expansion and diversification of the faith school sector.

Andrew CopsonAndrew Copson: Chief Executive of Humanist UK

Andrew Copson became the BHA’s Director of Education and Public Affairs in January 2010 after five years coordinating the work. His writing on humanist and secularist issues has appeared in several national newspapers, and he has represented the BHA and Humanism extensively on all of the major television news broadcasts, as well as on television programmes such as Newsnight, The Daily Politics, Sunday Morning Live and The Big Questions. He is also a regular speaker on BBC radio, plus local and national commercial radio stations.

Andrew is currently President of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) and a trustee of the International Humanist Trust. He has also represented Humanism to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, and the United Nations, and for ten years was Chair of the Westminster Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education.

Speaking Against the Motion …

 Maria Miller Maria Miller: Basingstoke’s MP,

Maria Miller is chair of the Women and Equalities Select Committee, and was minister for Disabled People for 2010-2012, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, and Minister for Women and Equalities until 2014. She is also a committed Christian, and a strong supporter of faith schools.

Mark Hogan Father Mark Hogan BA (Bachelors degree in Divinity)

Father Mark Hogan gained his degree in Divinity from Heythrop, University of London and was ordained deacon in 2000 and Roman Catholic priest in 2001 – serving in Southampton City Centre Parish till 2007, whilst at the same time studying to become a Master of Theology at Oxford University. He has been parish priest of St. Joseph’s, Basingstoke since September 2007.

A Rational Way to a Better Life