ACE Education! Accelerated Christian Education in British Schools - Jonny Scaramanga

Jonny Scaramanga attended a fundamentalist Christian school in the '90s, and is now working on a PhD examining student experiences in Britain's 50 Accelerated Christian Education schools.  He came to talk to us in November about what students learn in these schools today, and what we should do when the parent's right to freedom of religion conflicts with the child's right to a sound education.

At first, some of what goes on in these types of school can seem very amusing.  Jonny told us how they have used the ‘existence’ of the Loch Ness Monster to disprove evolution, taught that Humanists plan the elimination of Christianity and world government, and lumped Humanists together with pornographers and drug dealers.  This raised more than a few laughs

But it soon became clear how much children’s development and wellbeing are neglected by the techniques used to teach them under the ACE curriculum (bizarrely founded on the work of the atheist psychologist BF Skinner).  Doubtless the parents and teachers behind these schools think they’re doing the best for their children.  But a worldview that regards them as inherently sinful and in need of having their personalities shaped by crude psychological techniques leads to an educational experience that appears to be verging on child abuse.

There was a lively Q & A session after the talk, giving Jonny the chance to expand on the themes he raised, and tell us what the real world effects of ACE is on those who have been through it.

The talk was well attended, with twenty two people in the audience, despite many having also been to Simon Singh’s talk the previous evening.

Jonny has written for the Guardian, the Times Education Supplement, New Humanist, and Liberal Conspiracy. His broadcast appearances include BBC Radio 4, BBC2, BBC local radio, and Channel 4's 4Thought TV. His blog is at, or you can follow @JonnyScaramanga on Twitter.