The story so far
Here’s a timeline of what’s happened so far. I don’t honestly expect you to read all the links in this story. I’m just showing that I’m hardly alone in expressing these opinions.
In 2008, UK Naric judged the International Certificate of Christian Education (ICCE) to be equivalent to Cambridge International (CIE) O-level and A-level. The ICCE is the certificate you get for completing the Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) curriculum in the UK. As someone who teaches in further and higher education, it is my professional opinion that this is a travesty.
In July 2009, I wrote a letter to Naric complaining that ACE is academically inadequate, contains distortions of the truth in its course materials, and includes some material that seems to promote religious intolerance and even racism.
Not satisfied that this would get enough attention, I also wrote to the Times Education Supplement and the Guardian.
In August, the TES ran a story in which it revealed that Naric’s benchmarking exercise had validated ICCE, even though ICCE materials include claims that the Loch Ness Monster helps to disprove evolution, and that apartheid was beneficial for South Africa.
The following week, I wrote a story for the TES in which I described my experiences at an ACE school and briefly outlined why I think they are unacceptable.
In September, the British Humanist Association wrote to the government, complaining about the accreditation of ICCE.
On September 23rd, a piece by Andrew Copson in the Guardian referred to this accreditation.
On September 29th, the popular Lay Science blog reposted John Gregson’s thoughts on the subject, including reprinting my letter to Naric in full.
I have also written to two teachers at Maranatha Christian School in Swindon, one of the most important ACE schools in the UK. In my letters, I outlined various academic and moral reasons why I am opposed to their school, and I await their response.
That’s enough background for now. It seems ACE is a very difficult thing to take down. In 1984, the Committee on Tolerance and Understanding in Alberta, Canada, chaired by Ron Ghitter, said of ACE “There is no place for curriculum of this kind in the schools of Alberta.” There are still ACE schools in Alberta today.
In 1989, two university professors conducted a thorough curriculum review of ACE on behalf of the Australian government. In a 1993 paper discussing their findings, they said “[S]tudents do not complete ACE schooling with the appropriate knowledge, values, and skills for participation in Australian society.” In spite of that, ACE marches on in Australia.
ACE has received plenty of bad press in the UK, too. In May 2008, Channel 4 aired a documentary called Dispatches: In God’s Name which visited Carmel Christian School in Bristol and gave it a good pasting. That was accompanied by news stories in the Telegraph (and Independent, although that didn’t mention ACE). Professor Richard Dawkins also looked at ACE in his Root of All Evil? series, which you can watch here. That resulted in a follow-up article in the Times Education Supplement. And there was a 2005 piece in the Guardian too, which was mostly negative (and where it was positive, I argue that it was inaccurate).
My point is that the pesky ACE has been swatted many times, but never knocked out. But that’s OK. It’s my belief that simply raising awareness of ACE’s content would be enough to put off parents from sending their children there. People sign up for the school on the basis of Christian values. Few realise that it uses such discredited teaching methods, or propagates such extreme political views as it does.