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Exclusive Brethren seeks elusive free school status

news | Published in TES magazine on 23 November, 2012 | By: Irena Barker

But critics fear that sect’s pupils could end up ‘indoctrinated’

As a strict Christian sect, the Exclusive Brethren has a reputation for isolating itself from the world and sticking to a rigid moral code. Former members have even claimed that the Church punishes those who leave by cutting them off from their families.

Despite its reputation, the sect has launched a concerted drive to move into mainstream state education. At least 15 private schools run by the Exclusive Brethren have made bids to gain free school status to the Department for Education, TES has learned.

All have been turned down, but the Church remains committed to large numbers of its schools making the switch. At least two plan to have new bids ready, with more expected to follow suit.

Officials at the Focus Learning Trust, which acts on behalf of 40 schools run by the sect, said it is “only fair” for them to be allowed to become free schools. Parents from outside the sect have shown “incredible enthusiasm” for sending their children to the schools, many of which are highly successful, said information officer Rod Buckley.

“We currently receive no government funding whatsoever, so it is only equitable that we should receive government funding. It’s only fair while other groups have received funding for their schools,” he added.

The Brethren are renowned for being suspicious of technology. But Mr Buckley said that worries about ICT teaching are unfounded, as the schools embraced technology more than five years ago and have ICT suites that would be the envy of a state school.

He also dismissed concerns raised by former members of the Exclusive Brethren. “There are disaffected members out there, but they left many years ago and are not up to date with how it is now,” he said.

While the schools are currently open only to Church members, Mr Buckley said they had decided they “could cope” with opening their doors to non- believers to meet the conditions of free school status.

The Exclusive Brethren’s literature states that teaching staff in the schools are employed from outside the Church community and that the national curriculum is followed.

Secular campaigners reacted with alarm to news that Exclusive Brethren schools are continuing to pursue state funding, raising fears that pupils will be “indoctrinated”. They also expressed concern that the school websites have little to indicate that they are run by the Brethren, which could mislead parents.

Richy Thompson, faith schools campaigner at the British Humanist Association, added: “The schools do not offer RE but only Bible studies, which could lead to pupils being indoctrinated.

“They also have very conservative views on homosexuality and women, which are outside the realm of what is acceptable in a state-funded school. We hope the government continues to recognise why Exclusive Brethren groups should not be permitted to run state schools, as it thankfully has done so far.”

Mr Buckley said it is “a puzzle” why so many free school bids have been turned down, although he added that the DfE had raised concerns about the schools’ capacity to deliver the curriculum they claimed they would.

A spokesman for the DfE said it was unable to comment on individual free school bids, and added that all applications would be judged on the same strict criteria.

SUSSING OUT THE SECT

The Exclusive Brethren:

A Protestant evangelical sect with branches worldwide.

It follows a strict moral code based on the Bible.

The sect avoids traditional Christian symbols such as the cross.

It traditionally rejects technology as a corrupting influence.

Members do not marry outside the sect.

Women are expected to take on traditional female roles and men are expected to be breadwinners.

Former members have claimed the Church works like a “cult” with those who choose to leave isolated from friends and family. The Church denies this.


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Comment (107)

  • The TES who once had a reputation for good reporting is becoming dragged down in its search for tabloid style reporting

    as the education sector becomes clogged up by new age characters who have left God out of their lives and turned to following self made men running self campaigns it is not suprising that standards have reached an all time low

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    Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
    21:44
    23 November, 2012

    bobsaddle

  • This article don’t stack up – someone’s misinformed! I’ve worked alongside exclusive brethren at different times for the last 9 years and found them to be an extremely progressive bunch – their youth are amongst some of the smartest I’ve met. I wouldn’t call it indoctrinated I’d call it well-rounded
    education. Shame there’s not more of it around.

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    23:42
    23 November, 2012

    handelj84

  • I am presently working at a Brethren school and find it a most rewarding experience. As far as ICT is concerned we have a computer suite and most classrooms have an internet-connected laptop and some have projectors. My students do homework on the internet and follow the national curriculum, achieving very good results. Having spent my youth as a christian in a non-christian faith school, I was not indoctrinated nor were my beliefs belittled or deemed inferior and I would assume this would happen to those outside the faith who would join these schools.

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    10:05
    24 November, 2012

    wallace14

  • As a teacher within a Brethren school I find the suggestion that I am 'indoctrinating' my pupils highly offensive. I am not a member of the Exclusive Brethren, and neither are any of my colleagues and so we approach our lesson planning with no agenda other than to offer high quality education. Surely the fact that Ofsted have commended these schools and that local parents desire to send their children to them suggests that they must be doing something right?

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    13:03
    24 November, 2012

    alexsmyth87

  • I teach in a Brethren school, as stated in other comments, non of the teaching staff are Brethren, so we are not going to do any indoctrination in school.
    My GCSE science results - all except 1 were a level above CAT predictions, the other just missed A*
    I do not know what happens outside school, that is nothing to do with me.
    Non-brethren children would not be part of that anyway

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    17:24
    24 November, 2012

    oldreestyler

  • I teach in a Brethren school and have also taught in other faith schools.
    The pupils are generally very polite and well –balanced and achieve good results at GCSE and A level, following the National Curriculum. We are inspected by the Independent Schools Inspectorate in a similar way to Ofsted. The class sizes are small (15 being the largest in our school) and so each child receives high quality individual attention.
    As a teacher and a parent and ex- Governor of a Church of England school, I am personally convinced of the inherent value of faith schools. I have noticed how many parents, including those who don’t have a personal faith, are often very anxious to secure a place at a faith school for their children precisely because of the high educational standards and strict moral code.
    I think that the wider community and the Brethren themselves would benefit from any successful bid by the Brethren to open free schools.
    A moral code based on the bible is followed by 2.1 billion people in the world, approx. one third of all people, making it the largest world faith. So what is wrong with that? Christianity has served the community in many fields esp. education in this country for hundreds of years. The life of Jesus has been an example to many to love and serve their fellow man.
    Some secular humanists may see this as indoctrination but Christians would also see the secular humanist agenda as biased and discriminatory.

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    18:07
    24 November, 2012

    teacher490

  • So here we are again criticising a group or sect or whatever you like to call them because they have been brave enough to step out and do what they feel best for their children in starting their own schools. What's wrong with that?

    From what can be seen of the success rate of their schools (which from my understanding haven't been around that many years) we should be praising them for their achievements, and wishing them every success in their bid to open Free Schools, at least they're doing their bit to raise standards. Can't we give credit where credit's due, or are we all supposed to submit to the secularist agenda and condemn faith schools?

    It also seems from the other comments that those closest to the real situation have serious doubts about the credibility of some of the claims in this article too.

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    Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
    18:47
    24 November, 2012

    dropton49

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    9:13
    25 November, 2012

    michaelsmith

  • I also work for a Brethren School and have done successfully for nearly three years. I am appalled to read such negative and unfounded comments in an article that is clearly not based on up to date information and contains elements of others negative attitudes. I speak as I find and I am happy to say that this community uphold strong christian beliefs, family values, morals and principles. What is wrong with that? The Brethren are open to others and using the word "sect" is not fair and very unhelpful to the children of this faith. We live in a democratic society where everyone has the right to live their life as they choose, within the law that is set down by our country. The Brethren work hard to support this country and those who are less fortunate through their charitable work. They do not seek publicity for this, but choose to do things with a good heart and for the right reasons. This is really how the Brethren are; doing what is right. They certainly do not live outside of society and are fully aware of life and the U.K issues. The children and families are very supportive and not at all judgemental, as this article is. It does seem that any opportunity that comes to speak negatively about this community is taken and views that are expressed are not based on sound knowledge. We must all be open to listening and observing before making a judgement that causes pain to others. It isnt fair and it certainly isnt right.

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    9:23
    25 November, 2012

    michaelsmith

  • This article has clearly been written by a misinformed journalist who has failed to fully investigate the facts before bringing this completely biased and one-sided point of view to print. In fact I feel absolutely outraged by some of the comments that have been made as they are so far off the mark that she’s not even getting anywhere near the actual truth!
    Just to make clear that I am not a member of brethren; in fact I am not even Christian!

    Having worked in a variety of large state schools for the first 16 years of my teaching career, for the past six years I have worked in a brethren school and in that time started to get to know the ways of the brethren community quite well.
    Every community and every religious group have their own way and their own values beliefs, not just the brethren. Does this mean that the Muslim schools, and the Jewish schools and the Sikh schools that have all been awarded central government funding are any better or any different?...I don’t think so. In fact you would find far more radical thinking and teaching at many of these other schools than you would ever find at a brethren school (and I speak as a member of one of these other communities!!!).

    The brethren are a kind and caring community who live their lives by their Christian faith and beliefs. Their core values do not detract from their contribution to the wider community and to society at large. Contrary to popular belief they are quite an open community who play an active role in modern Britain. They work with and alongside members of the public at large and not just within their own ‘four wall’. They have successful businesses through which they contribute to the local and national economy. They pay their taxes just like the rest of us, and they live their lives in full accordance of the laws of the land.
    The brethren bring up their youngsters in a positive environment where those youngsters are not only very well cared for but also taught to respect high moral values. In my six years, I have yet to see a single incident of physical violence nor have I heard any foul language being used; not something I could say about any of the other schools that I’ve previously worked at.
    The youngsters are encouraged to realise and fulfil their full potential; and to fulfil responsibility for themselves and others which is clearly a public benefit. For instance there have been numerous fundraising activities completed during which substantial funds running into the thousands have been raised for a wide variety of excellent causes to include Children in Need, Great Ormond Street, Air Ambulance, RNLI, MacMillan Cancer, Smile Train, but to mention just a few. Those who live in adjoining properties to our particular school regularly comment on and congratulate the students on their excellent behaviour and attitudes.

    Brethren schools achieve excellent standards in all regards leading to glowing SIS inspection reports which are published on the official Ofsted website. The students achieve excellent academic results which feature highly at the top of the local league tables. At our school we receive numerous phone calls from local parents who would like to send their own children to the school; there can be no better advert than this?!.

    Perhaps if you spent a little less time on pursuing your own personal vendetta and more time on considering the full facts and realising the many benefits provided by the brethren, you might be able to write a more balanced article that gave your readers a chance to draw their own conclusions and make their own judgements!

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    9:28
    25 November, 2012

    kullyatkar

  • As a senior teacher in a Brethren School I would like to point out that we do not offer Bible Studies as quoted in the article but a Community period which is a PSHE option and includes assembly, choir, general studies and bible studies. ICT is taught in years 7-9 as a discrete subject, during year 10 students start to become self directed learners and have access to computers for their studies. Although the majority of students are from Brethren families some non Brethren children are educated in Focus Schools. Finally the focus is on learning, with high standards of work and behaviour expected at all times.

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    10:03
    25 November, 2012

    KKR123

  • I am a teacher in a Brethren school. Our focus within the school is to give the very best education possible within the NC.
    My experience of the Brethren children and their families is that they are a polite, hardworking respectful community who strive for the best for their childrens education.
    I have also experienced Brethren community involvement within their local community.

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    10:46
    25 November, 2012

    JemmaMcloughlin

  • I have taught in a Brethren school for more than seven years; it has been a rewarding and enriching experience. The students I have taught have been motivated, interested, well-rounded young people who have achieved much.
    Far from being insular and isolated I have found them to have, for example, a broad general knowledge and a keen interest in what is going on in the world. At a more local level students have been instrumental in raising money for national charities - only last week Year 10 raised over £3,000 for a well-known cancer charity. All this with the backing of supportive, involved parents.

    If the TES is to launch into investigative journalism it might be better if some balance were to be sort by interviewing people who work alongside the Brethren. Recent developments in Focus School direction and practice could then be included in any article.

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    14:22
    25 November, 2012

    political22

  • I feel the above article is unfair, one sided and full of out of date facts. I have been a senior teacher in a Brethren Primary School for 4 years and during my time working there I have experienced nothing but respect, support and positivity from the School’s Trust, parents and children.
    The progress and change that has taken place in the short time I have worked for the Brethren is extensive. All of our classrooms have Smartboards with Internet enabled laptops and 90% of our school post is now send to families via email. I would hardly called this ‘Suspicious of Technology’.
    The teaching staff are all non-brethren, but we are supported by some very dedicated parents that work voluntarily to help with the day to day supervision of the children. Every parent gives their full support to the school and encourages their children to work hard and do their best. I can confirm that we teach the National Curriculum to all children and track and monitor progress just as we would in a state school.
    It is true that the children are taught to respect the truth and teachings of the bible and the majority of religious teaching is done at home, but as a school we have a responsibility to teach the pupils to respect others with different beliefs and customs, as well as to educate them of other world communities, ancient and modern as well as giving them an awareness and appreciation of how others celebrate and mark important dates and festivals. Just as we would in any other school or educational establishment.
    The children are a joy to teach, they want to come to school and most make outstanding progress, often achieving well above the National Curriculum requirements for the end of Key Stage 2.
    I think that the next time you decide to write an article about a minority group, that you research your facts properly, after all newspapers are supposed to deliver the unbiased truth.

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    18:28
    25 November, 2012

    natasha1504

  • I also teach in a Brethren School and I can assure you that as teachers (non Brethren) we do not indoctrinate the children. The pupils are well behaved, well mannered and have good attendance.
    In general, they are extremely creative and practical. They often produce fantastic art work, enjoy learning musical instruments and are keen to read at home and do their homework. Schools are well maintained, equipped and resourced. Our latest inspection reported Good and Outstanding.
    Hey...sounds like an ideal basis to build a Free School to me.

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    18:50
    25 November, 2012

    davidhoppy

  • Having worked in Exclusive Brethren Schools for nearly three years as a Headteacher, the article about these Schools in this week's TES does not demonstrate or explain the positive contributions made by both the schools and the students to local communities. Additionally, the Exclusive Brethren Schools I have the pleasure of working in, provide students with the very highest standards of education and achieve excellent results, which is due in my opinion to staff, students, parents and Trustees working together as a team in order to support the schools' ethos of excellence for all. The determination to uphold this high standard of education which delivers the National Curriculum and more, would be nothing less I am sure than every parent would want for their child. ICT is used to both deliver the curriculum as well as for administrative tasks to support learning. I may also point out that as a female Headteacher within these schools, I do not have any issue as a professional working within such guidelines. We are inspected just as any other independent school is and have to uphold a curriculum that enables all students to achieve at the very highest of standards.

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    19:48
    25 November, 2012

    Jessica40

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    22:06
    25 November, 2012

    Scific57

  • As a teacher in an Exclusive Brethren primary school, I'd like to point out that the teachers and teaching assistants in my school are not members of the Exclusive Brethren. We are employed to deliver a strictly secular programme of study, so the claims of the British Humanist Association that potential free school pupils would be indoctrinated are incorrect. I have never had my own religious views questioned by the Brethren, and am trusted as a professional to teach a broad curriculum, making full use of my computer and interactive whiteboard!

    The staff at Brethren schools expect high levels of morality, behaviour and personal responsibility from the pupils. Maybe such expectations are not every parent's cup of tea - but a variety of choice is surely the point of free schools?

    It makes no sense to prevent the Brethren from operating free schools while permitting, for example, Jewish and Muslim groups to do so.

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    22:12
    25 November, 2012

    asnac

  • I have taught the brethren children for over 10 years and have gone from class teacher to head teacher in that time so I have worked with the community at many different levels.
    The school follows the National curriculum, including the Citizenship course. The community has always been fully supportive in the efforts of the staff to get the highest achievments from the students even though none of the staff are members of the community. The staff are helped in the school by many volunteers from the community and both the brethren and non-brethren staff get along really well. The students are well behaved and keen to do well.

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    22:23
    25 November, 2012

    Scific57

  • I am Head Teacher of one of the largest Brethren schools in England (over 200 pupils) and I find working for the Brethren a very forward thinking and rewarding experience. I was very disappointed to read this very misinformed and inaccurate article in the TES. There have been several articles in the press recently suggesting that faith organisations do not contribute to the wider community and my knowledge of the Brethren gained over the past few years very much suggests the opposite. Brethren children and families raise considerable money for charities (Street Kids Africa, Guide Dogs for the blind, Air Ambulance, Help the Heroes, Hawk & Owl Trust, to name just a few) but also give freely of their time to help others in need e.g. in the clear-up operation after the Christchurch earthquake and helping the emergency services recently with food and drinks during the fire at the recycling Centre in Hemel Hempstead.

    But back to the educational issues. The schools follow National Curriculum, teach GCSEs and A Levels and schools gain top places in League Tables with the full range of ability of student in their schools. e.g. 94% of Y11 students gaining 5+ A*-C grades placing the school top in the county league tables. ICT is used very effectively in schools (ensuring that inappropriate websites are blocked) with pupils learning high level office skills and preparing students for use of ICT in the workplace. The schools teach Community options that include PHSE, Citizenship, Choir, current affairs, assembly on a rotation with Bible Studies and students are encouraged to show respect for all, work exceptionally hard and be caring, confident citizens. Pupils are polite, articulate and are commended in school inspections.

    Sixth form students follow very much an English Baccalaureate style education following A Levels in English, Mathematics and Business and two other subjects. Sixth form lessons are taught using Video Conferencing providing a broad range of options and opportunities to share in classes across the country. They are provided with a very well-rounded education. Sounds rather forward thinking to me, not schools set up to indoctrinate children.

    Teachers in Focus schools are employed from outside the Brethren and have tremendous experience providing a excellent education. Female teachers are treated on par with male teachers and many Head Teachers in the Brethren schools are very successful professional women.
    All these points add up to providing an excellent education that many parents strive for. The granting of Free School Status should be made on educational not faith issues and all this sounds like compelling basis on which to build Free Schools to me.

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    7:16
    26 November, 2012

    Headteacher308

  • It looks like the author has some unfounded prejudice against these Christians which makes them look like a cult. Our neighbours are from this group and having visited their school I can say they run excellent schools with a very full curriculum and I hope they do get Free School status. If they do I will be the first to get my child in there but at the moment I couldn’t afford to because they have to pay for everything.

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    7:49
    26 November, 2012

    Raymond898

  • I deliver Design and Technology courses and have done so only since September 2011. Having taught in state schools for the previous 21 years I may be able to provide an objective insider’s view on this subject.

    At our school, ICT is available on site with one dedicated suite of pcs and machines are made available in many other classrooms wherever possible, indeed I have two networked machines in my workshop. Video Conferencing arrangements to other school sites across the UK enables the delivery of several GCE courses to exist.

    Computing provision may not be cutting edge yet but by request, has moved on significantly in the last fifteen months for students following my courses. All pupils seem to have access to computers for coursework assignments whenever appropriate both at school and for many at home.

    There is considerable control exercised when accessing external sources of information but this is both understandable and manageable when one considers the ethos of the Brethren community. Courses function effectively and students consistently secure top grades in their examinations.

    It has been a good decision for me to work in a school with motivated pupils who are all keen to achieve. I feel that I am achieving much more now with my endeavours in education in it's widest sense.

    Perhaps Irena Barker could undertake another project - try talking to teachers working in this environment and respond to the above comments with another article?

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    10:18
    26 November, 2012

    Mark451

  • I taught Plymouth Brethren children in a mainstream secondary school. They were unfailingly polite, hard-working and bright - most of them would have won places for the local grammar but their parents didn't believe in entering their pupils for the 11+. Their parents were very supportive.

    But... their children were not allowed to eat with other pupils, neither did they mix with other pupils outside school. They weren't allowed to watch TV which made using video to support teaching rather difficult. They were not supposed to use computers. However, this was ten years ago and it's probable that the IT prohibition has been lifted - posts above would support this.

    It's very difficult to find an Exclusive Brethren website - the BBC quotes one in its Religions section which says that the Brethren provide a warm family life. I would agree with that but would add that this only applies if family members obey the rules. The BBC cites an Eclusive Brethren website which says:

    "Do the Brethren break up families?" on their website, the Brethren reply: "The Brethren as a group hate the break up of families. However adherence to the doctrine of separation prevents normal relations between family members when one of them leaves the fellowship."

    That "doctrine of separation" is cruel. Citing how well schools do in league tables does not detract from that.

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    10:30
    26 November, 2012

    Retired123

  • As a teacher in a Brethren school I feel that the article does not portray an accurate picture. Neither myself or my colleagues are members of the Exclusive Brethren - what we are is a highly committed team who want only the best for our pupils, and as such our focus is on helping all the students maximize their potential (as would be the case in the vast majority of schools, state, independent or otherwise). Having taught in the independent sector before taking up my current post, I see no difference in a Brethren school and any other free school - we follow the NC, there is a school ethos, small class size, broad range of abilities etc. I feel that perhaps the author of the article should have checked that their information provided a complete picture of the situation.

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    10:36
    26 November, 2012

    cnireland

  • Irene Barker's article was not "prejudiced" but factual. It began with a short description of the Exclusive Brethren followed by quotations from the Focus Learning Trust - Focus schools are run by the Exclusive Brethren. This is followed by a statement that the Exclusive Brethren would "cope" with non-believers in any free school run by the Brethren. The Humanist statement was included for balance.

    So, far from being "prejudiced", Barker's article was balanced and contained opposing viewpoints not just one.

    However, that doesn't mean that there are no questions surrounding the Brethren. A Focus booklet (downloadable from the TES website) says:

    "They [the Exclusive Brethren] find their life together, spend time in each others houses world wide, keep separate from the world of sport and entertainment, and do not have radio or TV."

    Such separation from the world does not augur well for the education of children who live in the world - if the Focus information is true, then how would their schools have dealt with, say, the Olympics? And is "entertainment" such a bad thing - Shakespeare was entertainment when his plays were acted?

    The Focus booklet explains that Focus schools employ non-Brethren teachers and these teachers are "asked to respect Brethren beliefs and way of
    life - such as the sanctity of marriage." So where does that leave single parents, couples in civil partnerships, divorced couples and their children?

    http://www.tes.co.uk/Upload/Attachments/TES/2753386/Focus%20Learning%20Trust%20-%20An%20Overview.pdf

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    11:12
    26 November, 2012

    Retired123

  • As a Headteacher in a Brethren School and myself a non-Brethren, I find this article to be ill researched and insulting. Deliberate and repeated useage of the word sect and the inference that the Exclusive Brethren have a reputation for breaking up families serves only to demonise the Exclusive Brethren Community and present an unfavourable bias which is nothing short of scarmongering. This is also true of the, "fear" that potential students from beyond the Exclusive Brethren Community could become indoctrineated.
    In my experience, Focus Schools deliver a broad and varied curriculum in line with the NC and have been recognised in their ability to do so by the Schools Inspection Service. It is also my experience that Focus schools are no different to any other free school in that they follow a particular ethos and strive to unlock the potential of the students with a secure environment.

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    11:43
    26 November, 2012

    JJM12

  • The article by the TES is actually full of fact.

    It is a fact that the schools are run by the Exclusive Brethren whose worldwide leader, Bruce Hales is based in Australia. In Australia and New Zealand the Exclusive Brethren are well known to Media and Politicians. A former Prime Minister of Australia Kevin Rudd stated they are a “sect and a cult”. Do some research and look on You Tube for press reports on the Exclusive Brethren.

    The group are currently the subject of a Charity Commission enquiry in the UK, due to “lack of public benefit”. There was a significant speech in the House of Lords last week 22nd Nov by Baroness Berridge, who called for an enquiry into the group, to read her comments go to http://baronessberridge.com/

    The children of Brethren who go to these “focus schools” are not allowed to eat with non brethren members, they aren’t even allowed to eat with other Christians, yet they call themselves a Christian church. Although they maybe allowed to do further education from a distance learning perspective, the children of the Brethren in these schools are not allowed to attend University. I can not see how that doctrine can be part of a progressive education system. The children of the Brethren are not allowed to have non Brethren friends. In effect they belong to a completely closed sect.

    The children are taught by the Exclusive Brethren church to have a “hatred” of the world. It maybe behind teachers backs, but they view “all others” not in their religious group as “worldlies”. This is because the Exclusive brethren have a doctrine based on “Separation from Evil”, based on a rather twisted interpretation of the Bible Chapter, 2 Timothy 2. While they claim they “just” separate from evil, in practice this means they separate from “all others not with them”. The text of this Bible Chapter means that those not “with them” are treated as “iniquitous” and to “dishonour”, I don’t see how that can be part of a balanced education for a child.

    Further more in terms of education and careers, Brethren children are not allowed to pursue certain careers, such as being a “lawyer” for example. Why ?, Because they are not allow to have any attachment to any “associations” or “unions” so they are not allowed to be Doctors, Lawyers, Teachers etc, because they would mean they would have to be a member of, or educated by, or regulated by “professional associations and bodies”, which is not allowed according to Exclusive Brethren doctrines

    It is true and fact that the Exclusive Brethren break up families and cause huge pain and heart ache. If a member leaves the group they will be “withdrawn from”, or “excommunicated”. During this process they will loose their House and Job as both are tied financially to the Brethren. If a spouse or children want to stay within the group, the other spouse must leave the marital home and move away. In cases such as this, access to children is limited. Why does this happen ? Because the Exclusive Brethren’s doctrine is that “only they” are the right place for a Christian to be and to leave is to “go into the world”. So, as they believe and practice that “worldliness” is evil, then they must separate from evil.

    It does not matter one whit if a member leaves to go to a different Christian church, they have left the Brethren which is where they belong, so they are “cut off”. Not very Christian is it ?

    I struggle to comprehend how the UK Government aids and supports these schools, they are simply and factually divisive.

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    Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    15:16
    26 November, 2012

    UKUNI

  • would like to add my voice to this comment that the TES is full of fact. I have been researching this group for many years now and whilst their public face might be one of christianity etc but their behind the scenes face is of broken families and harsh treatment.

    We also need to be careful not to confuse the various groups of brethren - there are several who might call themselves Exclusive Brethren who are not the ones being discussed here. What has made it more complicated though is that this particular group of EB, led by Bruce Hales, have recently changed their name to Plymouth Brethren (Exclusive Brethren) Christian Church.

    But there are many other branches of Plymouth Brethren out there who would be quite offended to be considered as exclusive and separatist as this group.

    As a former member myself (left 52 years ago!) I have been called 'the epitome of evil' and am regarded as doing Satan's work just because I had a concern for the mental health of those who leave.

    This particular branch of exclusive brethren are homophobic - they have made attempts to chemically castrate a young lad of 17 because he was gay. Is that christian? The doctor concerned has been successfully prosecuted. But how may others have been treated this way?

    Everything in the previous message is true - being a teacher in an EB school I am afraid does not mean you know about this group and clearly you don't.

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    17:07
    26 November, 2012

    JillA-M

  • This is my seventh year working as a Headteacher of a Brethren school. I fail to understand why this group are always misrepresented. Having worked in a state school for over 26 years it has been a pleasure to work and lead a school where underage relationships, drugs, fighting, swearing, etc are virtually unknown, and also to see pupils who enjoy coming to school. Our curriculum is to all intents and purposes identical to the state sector, and one look at our examination results would show anyone how successful the schools are both in their achievements, which rank them amongst the best in the country, and in finding employment for those students who have left, many of them progressing to tertiary studies. Contrary to the reports in the public domain we also teach the theory of evolution. All schools are run along Christian values and there is no religious indoctrination in any of our lessons or assemblies. Assemblies stay clear from any religious beliefs and concentrate on PSHE. We have sought to attain free school status and the public would be surprised at the support we have had from parents outside the Brethren community who want to enrol their children in our schools to avoid the problems that exist in state schools. Is it not ironic that whilst we are happy to endorse free schools for the cosmology of the Steiner group, Islamic, Jewish and all other religious beliefs we deny those parents who want to educate their children in a Christian environment.

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    17:42
    26 November, 2012

    welshboy98

  • I have taught within a Brethren school for the last couple of years and found it to be a very pleasant environment to work in. Students are nurtured, encouraged to excel and the school is always aiming to find ways of improving quality of learning.
    Myself, and the other teachers, are non-Brethren professionals who follow expectations of our examination boards, and who aim for our students, and school, to be outstanding in our various subjects that we teach.
    If the Brethren community is looking to get free school status, then what a benefit and opportunity for non-Brethren parents and students to have access to a quality, and wholesome, learning environment!

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    19:36
    26 November, 2012

    LearnerForLife

  • I have taught at a Brethren School for the past 9 years and during that time I witnessed the introduction of computers. ICT is taught in years 7-9 and they sit external exams in the subject and get great results. The students use maths programmes and use the computers for research projects. The students study a variety of GCSE, AS and A2 subject and achieve great results. This year the students raised money for charities such as Cancer Research, RNLI and Help for Heroes.
    I have been very happy teaching here over this time otherwise I would have left.

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    7:26
    27 November, 2012

    Express08

  • Observation :
    There are a number of comments in above posts, that simply present gushing praise for Exclusive Brethren schools without so much as a thought given to any restrictions, any critical evaluations, any improvements to be made, or raising any negatives. In short, some comments seem to be presenting a “rose tinted” biased view, even of the way the Exclusive Brethren practice their faith.

    Details :
    It is fact that children at these Exclusive Brethren schools are not allowed to attend University. It is a fact that Exclusive Brethren schools are not supposed to encourage certain career paths, that would be open to those of standard schools and "even" other faith schools – careers such as Doctor, Teacher, Lawyer etc.

    Comments from others :
    Some comments from above posts state - “Students are nurtured, encouraged to excel” and “are no different to any other free school in that they follow a particular ethos and strive to unlock the potential of the students with a secure environment” and “I wouldn’t call it indoctrinated I’d call it well-rounded education. Shame there’s not more of it around”

    Conclusion :
    I cant see how any of those highlighted comments (and there are others), can be valid when attendig Universtity is not allowed and when certain career paths are not allowed. Whichever way you try to “spin” that, it is a restrictive environment. Have any of the pro Exclusive Brethren posters ever actually really thought about the reasons why there are no Exclusive Brethren teachers ?

    Details :
    It is a fact that the Exclusive Brethren practice extreme “Seperation from Evil”. This means that – The Exclusive Brethren only eat with other members of their community – The Excluisve Brethren treat all others, even other Christians as “Worldly" and “Iniquitous” – The Exclusive Brethren have absolutley nothing to do with other Christian Churches, members are not allowed to go to other Churches to participate in, or hear a Church service – The Exclusive Brethren are only allowed to worship and commune within their own community – The Exclusive Brethren believe that all other Christian Churches and denominations are in error – The Exclusive Brethren follow interpretations of the Bible from their previous and current leaders, “Men of God” such as JN Darby, James Taylor Jnr and the current leader Bruce Hales – Google “James Taylor Jnr” and read all about him ! – Exclusive Brethren believe and practice that to leave the closed community means you are trurning your back on God.

    Comments from others :
    Yet despite all that fact (do some research and discover for yourself) some comments have stated that – “this community uphold strong christian beliefs, family values, morals and principles” and “The Brethren are open to others and using the word "sect" is not fair and very unhelpful to the children of this faith”, and “A moral code based on the bible is followed by 2.1 billion people in the world, approx. one third of all people, making it the largest world faith", and "Christianity has served the community in many fields esp. education in this country for hundreds of years. The life of Jesus has been an example to many to love and serve their fellow man.”

    Conclusion :
    As a Christian, I find it extremely distasteful to consider the Exclusive Brethren practice of their faith remotley connected to Christianity at all. The Bible does not teach a Christain to “separate” from another Christian. The Bible does not teach a Christian that they should not eat with anyone not in their group. The Bible does not teach that a Christian has to limit career choice or freedom to go to University. The Bible does not teach that only the Exclusive Brethren are the right place (which is what they practice, otherwise why would they “withdraw” or “separate” from those who leave to go to another church).

    There are Biblical instructions and explanations that are clearly warning “against” what the Exclusive Brethren teach and practice.

    How does “love thy neigbour” work, when the Exclusive Brethren are not allowed to eat, or drink, or fellowship with others or other Christians

    How does “accept other Christians as Christ has also accepted you” work, when Exclusive Brethren are not allowed to fellowship or commune with other Christians

    How does “there is One Loaf, One Body, One Fellowship, One Lord “ work, when Exclusive Brethren are not allowed to have Fellowship or Communion with any other Christian apart from those in their own group.

    They have seperated themselves off from the rest of the Christian community, which is not taught in the Bible

    The Bible and the life of Jesus do not provide the model for the Excluisve Brethrens faith at all. They are certainly not following the Christian faith as practiced by other Christians. As fomer Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd once said “If this is Christianity it is not as we have known it before.”.

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    Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    10:59
    27 November, 2012

    UKUNI

  • Dear All,

    I write as a senior Brethren member with an interest in education.

    TES readers should know the facts about the alleged case of chemical castration referred to by JillA-M:

    1 it was in Australia, not the UK

    2. it had nothing to do with the Brethren church; the allegation involved a practicing medical practitioner and a patient.

    3. JillA-M’s report of the alleged incident is grossly distorted

    2. it has nothing remotely to do with education in the UK

    Readers should from this form their own opinion about the accuracy of the rest of JillA-M’s derogatory allegations.

    Anyone who wants a true picture of the Brethren should go to www.plymouthbrethrenchristianchurch.org

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    21:37
    27 November, 2012

    PierreQ

  • I was Headteacher of a Brethren Focus school for 7 years and I resigned in protest at the psychological abuse I witnessed. The welfare of my students was my primary concern and a number of them disclosed their distress to me about various heartbreaking concerns in their lives. These concerns were directly connected to their Brethren way of life.
    Although I met many delightful people whilst working there, I could not condone some of their practices. Since leaving the school I have been contacted by a number of young Brethren who were desperate to leave the community and I have been fortunate enough to be able to help them.
    It has at times been heartbreaking to see their trauma as they suffer the loss of their families, but this is balanced out by watching them grow and flourish as they savour their new found freedom.
    I do not blame the majority of the Brethren, rather the system of control which is implemented from the top i.e. Bruce Hales

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    22:36
    27 November, 2012

    Cellist3

  • My opinion is that The Exclusive Brethren (recently re-branded as Plymouth Christian Brethren) use their own private schools as one more way that they keep control of their children and prevent them from having the ability to make any choices in their lives. How would children that are forced to attend religious meetings 7 days a week, attend a brethren controlled school and then be employed by brethren have the ability to make any choices in their lives?

    They don't know any different and if they were to try to make different choices such as to attend college or university, participate in sports, attend a different church, seek employment outside the brethren, they would be thrown out of the Exclusive Brethren and all contact with their family and friends would be terminated. It's all about controlling every aspect of their follower's lives with an iron fist.

    I know this for a fact because it happened to me. Luckily for me I grew up in an era where we were still attending public schools. I learned to think for myself and I exercised my freedom of choice.

    Under no circumstances should these schools which benefit only the Exclusive Brethren receive public funding. Furthermore any parent outside the Exclusive Brethren group that would consider sending their children to one of their schools needs to do extensive research about this group.

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    23:23
    27 November, 2012

    Paisleydog

  • Dear Cellist3, your are outnumbered by the excellent comments above you, witnessing to the truth about this group of Christians whom you seem to want to persecute. As mentioned above, I have been in contact with them for 9 years, and can witness with authority that all you say is very biased and must say thanks to PierreQ for making the comments of JillA-M quite obviously inaccurate. I am very interested to see that a minority class are persecuting a fellow group of Christians, why I ask? Why not support them? Are you linked somehow with Paisleydog?

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    23:58
    27 November, 2012

    handelj84

  • Pierreq makes some interesting points in his post 3 up from this one

    1. The case was indeed not in the UK, it was in Australia, a strong hold of the Exclusive Brethren, as that is the base for Bruce Hales the “Universal Leader”

    2. It had everything to do with the Exclusive Brethren as both the consultant involved and the patient were members of the Brethren

    3. The report by Jill is not grossly distorted at all, just a quick search on Google can uncover all the details, as it was all over the Press and TV in Australia

    4. It has everything to do with education in the UK, it involves the Brethrens attitude to those who don’t quite fit their ideal model for life and how they accept others. This would be a part of the curriculum for Personal, Social and Health Education, PSHE.

    And finally,

    5. You make the statement “the alleged case”

    Problem is, the case is not actually “alleged” is it. Dr Craddock was found guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct for prescribing “anti-androgen therapy cyproterone acetate (Cyprostat) during a 10-minute consultation in his home in February 2008”. He was banned from practicing. The case went to the Medical Council of New South Wales in Australia.

    I certainly would not claim any of that as “Alleged” !!!!, it was “Proven”

    But then again, as you say, you are a Senior Brethren member so you would know all that, just "forgot" to put it into your post. Readers should draw their own conclusions and conduct their own research.

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    Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    23:59
    27 November, 2012

    UKUNI

  • Dear UKUNI, are you linked with Retired123, JillA-M and Paisleydog? Why not leave this to the trained minds of true teachers? They are there with them, they would know? You 3 seem to be in the minority. It seems we need to allow these Christians to get on with their lives as they see fit and if they choose to have their own schools, and are prepared for the cost, surely it saves us money in the long run. They have an axe to grind, we should let them get on and support them all we can. Christianity has always been persecuted. Let us not be guilty of this sin.

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    1:20
    28 November, 2012

    handelj84

  • LOL - no I am not linked with any of the above unless you consider that we have probably all suffered the same heartbreak at the hand of the Exclusive Brethren or Plymouth Christian Brethren or whoever they have decided to call themselves today.

    However with over 30 years in the Exclusive Brethren, I think I am more qualified to speak on what they represent and what they represent is a system that controls each and every person with an iron fist.

    It does appear to me that many of the pro-exclusive brethren posts from the teachers in their schools sound very similar. Perhaps you were handed a script or are just as indoctrinated as your students

    In my mind, there would be no reason that an educated person, who has had the privilege of a post secondary education, to endorse the lack of opportunity that these children have. Perhaps you could explain why you would stoop to supporting this.

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    3:39
    28 November, 2012

    Paisleydog

  • Irena Barker of the TES – get your facts right!

    This is a tawdry article which, by trying to be sensationalist, is factually and culturally wrong in a number of areas:

    1 Brethren do keep themselves to themselves but they do not ‘isolate themselves from the world’. How would they run their many businesses – which contain considerable numbers of non-brethren employees – and deal successfully with the public if they were so segregated from the outside world?

    2 It’s not news that brethren distance themselves from former members – it’s just their way – and how many people in the world at large keep closely in touch with all their former colleagues and schoolmates?

    3 As for brethren being suspicious of technology, this is a joke. Their schools are loaded with computers, faxes, visualisers, DVD players etc etc. They all have mobile phones – the only aspect of modern technology they are quite rightly suspicious of is allowing their members open access to the internet – and there’s nothing wrong in that!

    4 Do the secular campaigners concerned about the free school status brethren schools might attain campaign so vigorously against Catholic schools or Moslem schools? I doubt it

    5 Similarly, many churches, faiths and cultures have conservative viewpoints on homosexuality and women. How many openly gay Asians have you seen publicly or in the media? And how many Asian women work in curry restaurants or kebab houses? The answer to both questions is very few yet I do not see Ms Irene Barker being quite so critical of Moslems as she is of Brethren!

    Come on Ms Barker! If you are going to beat communities of faith with a secular stick, beat them all! Don’t just pick on the one! Or is it simply a case of political correctness here – it’s OK to beat the white European communities but you can’t criticise any ethnic ones?

    Be critical, but don’t be hypocritical!

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    7:20
    28 November, 2012

    drengland

  • Talking of hypocrisy,

    Quote – “It’s not news that brethren distance themselves from former members – it’s just their way”

    For what is supposed to be a “Faith” school, based on a “Christian ethos”, based on the “Bible”, that is a rather strange comment !

    What teaches the Exclusive Brethren to distance themselves from former members and others if they are Christians ?. The Exclusive Brethren claim to be Christain, so if they distance themselves from former members and others who are also Christians what type of Christianity are the Excusive Brethren following ??. What is actually being taught in these schools ?

    I know many former members myself, and they all go to Christian Churches, some in the main Denominations, some in Evangelical Churches, and one family go to an Open Brethren assembly. Yet they are still “seperated” from relatives and family inside the Exclusive Brethren !. Why, if they are still remembering Christ Jesus in Communion and still walking in the Christian faith ??

    This is what is most troubling about the doctrine taught in the Exclusive Brethren

    It is this fact which is so concerning about what the Excluisve Brethren “really” believe and what they “really” teach their children, not just in these Focus Schools but also what they are taught in the Meeting Halls

    The comment is “Its just their way” – that maybe, but is it a Christian way as the Bible teaches ? Its certainly not in the King James Version of the Bible which I read and its certainly not what is taught in “Mainstream Christianity”.

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    Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    9:40
    28 November, 2012

    UKUNI

  • I would not want to send my children to an Exclusive Brethren Free School mainly because of their UN-CHRISTIAN beliefs and behaviour. Their sect revolves around the separation from evil based on their toxic interpretation of 2 Timothy 2:20-21 “20 But in a great house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also wooden and earthen; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. 21 If therefore one shall have purified himself from these, [in separating himself from them], he shall be a vessel to honour, sanctified, serviceable to the Master, prepared for every good work.”. This is a translation from their founder Darby – except now they’ve removed the brackets and made his expansion and interpretation there part of the Bible.

    This doctrine of separation supports their toxic internal discipline and ex-communication practices which isolate ‘offenders’ from family, friends and work. There are numerous accounts of ex-Brethren who have been forbidden from seeing parents, siblings, children for decades due to this toxic policy.
    So what hope in a school? Will there be Parent Teacher Associations? Probably not as the Exclusive Brethren must stay separate from ‘The Worldlies’ outside their sect – and that includes Christians from outside their sect. How will they form a Governing Body? Again they are not allowed to be in association with Worldlies. They won’t even have a cup of tea with you – that’s how literally they take this toxically amended bible verse/policy.

    So why do they want Free Schools? To serve the local community? I don’t think so. To defray their own costs in isolating their own children? That’s more likely.

    Baroness Berridge in The House of Lords called for an investigation into this sect. Maybe that will turn over a few stones?

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    9:55
    28 November, 2012

    SchoolGovernor

  • Thanks UKUNI for making the vendetta team clear. Now we see Schoolgovernor join the team. I feel truly sorry for you to be part on something for 30 years, to then turn round and attack it, throw all thoses years of your life away as worthless. Seems funny. Seems unbelievable.

    I know these people are great company and excellent business partners, and do not attack other religions that I can find any reports on, just preach the gospel to all men.

    Now back to the actual issue of Free School Status, after looking into this a bit it is so unfair, unjust and unkind to attack a group of persons (leaving Christianity out of it) who are saving the government money by teaching their own children at their own cost. If they can meet the criteria for quality education, the national curriculum etc, then why reject a saving to the government and in effect to all the population of England including yourselves?
    What would happen to your tax bill if the Plymouth Brethren decided to close their schools and enrol them back in the state sector?

    Bite the hand that feeds you?

    Let the true citizen come out in you and get on with something that will make you profit, not loss.

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    10:42
    28 November, 2012

    handelj84

  • I note with interest all these comments and seems like an awful lot of mud is in the air..what's anyone going to get out of this...These people seem to be the object of horrible attack, I question what anyone will gain out of it. Why these people, local community in Cornwall, seen every day, no trouble, known in the area for years, most of all.... a positive benefit to the community.... get to know them I say. Get the facts. When anyone speaks so strongly at such lengths about people I always question the motive behind it. If you say you've left them, why turn round and attack them. You'll bit off more than you can chew.. be sure it will catch up on you.

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    11:18
    28 November, 2012

    leeder72

  • O Dear, it seems we cant engage in sensible factual debate here without the responses resorting to personal attack.

    You say (Quote)
    “Thanks UKUNI for making the vendetta team clear. Now we see Schoolgovernor join the team. I feel truly sorry for you to be part on something for 30 years, to then turn round and attack it, throw all thoses years of your life away as worthless. Seems funny. Seems unbelievable”

    1. There is no vendetta, I have asked genuine questions based on fact, experience and knowledge from members who have left the Exclusive Brethren. Its called debate and the normal response is to answer questions fairly, factually and in an adult manner.

    2. I have no idea what you mean when you speak of “30 years” etc etc ?

    Part of the Exclusive Brethrens pitch for Free School Status is their “Christian Ethos”, so I don’t see how it can be valid to have a debate which “leaves that out”

    It would be more constructive for genuine debate if the questions were answered as posed in my post at 9.40 on 28th Nov 2012.

    I have copied it here

    Quote – “It’s not news that brethren distance themselves from former members – it’s just their way”

    For what is supposed to be a “Faith” school, based on a “Christian ethos”, based on the “Bible”, that is a rather strange comment !

    What teaches the Exclusive Brethren to distance themselves from former members and others if they are Christians ?. The Exclusive Brethren claim to be Christain, so if they distance themselves from former members and others who are also Christians what type of Christianity are the Excusive Brethren following ??. What is actually being taught in these schools ?

    I know many former members myself, and they all go to Christian Churches, some in the main Denominations, some in Evangelical Churches, and one family go to an Open Brethren assembly. Yet they are still “seperated” from relatives and family inside the Exclusive Brethren !. Why, if they are still remembering Christ Jesus in Communion and still walking in the Christian faith ??

    This is what is most troubling about the doctrine taught in the Exclusive Brethren

    It is this fact which is so concerning about what the Excluisve Brethren “really” believe and what they “really” teach their children, not just in these Focus Schools but also what they are taught in the Meeting Halls

    The comment is “Its just their way” – that maybe, but is it a Christian way as the Bible teaches ? Its certainly not in the King James Version of the Bible which I read and its certainly not what is taught in “Mainstream Christianity”.

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    Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    11:19
    28 November, 2012

    UKUNI

  • leeder72
    Quote "If you say you've left them, why turn round and attack them. You'll bit off more than you can chew.. be sure it will catch up on you"

    If that is aimed at me I suggest you re direct your "mud", as I have never said I was a former member -:)

    I know plenty of former members and work with churches that deal with the fall out and damage that is caused by the Exclusive Brethren when they "withdraw" or "excommunicate" from someone

    I am only here for a factual and honest debate, it seems that is not possible, its a shame as you claim to be a Christian" group !!

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    Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    11:27
    28 November, 2012

    UKUNI

  • Apologies UKNI, I was mixing you up with Paisleydog.
    As for your questions, I cannot answer them. I reckon I will go and visit one of their schools to find out the answers now you raise them.

    I hope they will secure Free School Status, or any avenue of government funding, whatever route is open to them.

    Now back to the actual issue of Free School Status, after looking into this a bit it is so unfair, unjust and unkind to attack a group of persons (leaving Christianity out of it) who are saving the government money by teaching their own children at their own cost. If they can meet the criteria for quality education, the national curriculum etc, then why reject a saving to the government and in effect to all the population of England.
    What would happen to your tax bill (and mine) if the Plymouth Brethren decided to close their schools and enrol them back in the state sector?

    I watch and follow with interest how this will pan out.

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    12:27
    28 November, 2012

    handelj84

  • handelj84

    I did not expect an ad hominem response. To the best of my knowledge I do not know any of the contributors on this forum. I simply was expressing my own reservations in the light of the slowly exposing story surrounding the Exclusive Brethren and my questions as a School Governor as to the suitability of this group to run Free Schools.

    By the way, if they do get to run Free Schools then their costs are transferred to the Government instead of being for themselves. Currently they choose to privately educate their children, so rightly the costs belong to themselves. However, their schools are set up through Educational charities which are eligible for Gift Aid on donations, so already the Government is supporting their schools in this way. And when I say Government in this context, I mean you and me, tax payers in the UK.

    I reiterate that I think there would be logistical (for them, moral) problems for them to consitute a fair and representative Governing Body as they are banned from 'unequal yoking', that is being in membership with anyone not in their sect. How this would hamper educational outcomes for the non Exclusive Brethren children could be an issue due to lack of representation at Governor level.

    Thinking on th e exclusive lines: How would they handle lunchtimes as the Exclusive Brethren children are not allowed to eat with non Exclusive Brethren children? What about sports teams? Does that constitute membership?

    There are many unanswered questions which need clarification, so I for one am glad the DfE have said no.

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    12:59
    28 November, 2012

    SchoolGovernor

  • For anyone interested my 'views' on the case of chemical castration earlier are based on personal knowledge of the lad concerned and the members of his family who are out.
    I cited this example because it is relevant to education - homophobia should surely not be tolerated in our schools The fact that it occurred in Australia (the lad concerned was from NZ and had been sent to Australia) does not mean it could not happen or has not happened here in the UK.
    Anyone interested can read about this in many newspaper articles - here is one
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/southland-times/news/7621164/Doctor-banned-over-castration-pills

    To say it is nothing to do with the brethren readers can decide for themselves.

    Oh and by the way HandelJ84 I am a trained and experienced teacher

    But to ask a direct question - is the person who posted on this above saying that the brethren are accepting of homosexuality?

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    13:56
    28 November, 2012

    JillA-M

  • I have been working for the Exclusive Brethren as a teacher since 2009. I have taught a variety of subjects and currently teach Business Studies and Accounts. I enjoy all my classes and find the pupils engaging, respectful and socially aware. I value my interaction with these pupils as they are sincere, polite and hard working. I find that these pupils are no different to the pupils which I have taught in the State Sector. None of the teachers at the school are part of the Brethren community but interact well with the children in both formal and informal situations. In class, I often make use of IT facilities and the students are required to have a broad understanding of the business environment in order to study the subjects at A level.
    The school is run by a CEO and trustees who have regular contact with the staff in different forums. All share a common aim which is to provide a stimulating environment to educate the children. I find the CEO and trustees responsible, supportive and approachable and I communicate with them on a regular basis. The national curriculum is followed and the schools are inspected.
    I find that the article written is inaccurate and shows a lack of understanding of both the Brethren and the Brethren schools.

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    14:50
    28 November, 2012

    juliemeyer1

  • leeder72: I take the words "You'll bit off more than you can chew.. be sure it will catch up on you." as a threat. and if there is a moderator on this site, it should be addressed as a threat. Why would you as an innocent bystander stoop to threats unless you have a vested interest that you have not yet disclosed.

    Last time I checked freedom of speech was one of the rights that I have been given and I also have the right to recount what I know from being a part of this group. Admittedly it may be biased but that would be understandable if you had been through what I and many other ex-exclusive brethren have been through.

    Exclusive Brethren have the freedom to practice their religion and teach their children anything they want. But don't bother trying to convince someone who has been a part of that group that the group should receive charitable status or that public funds should pay for their children's schooling. Allow your children the same freedom of choice that other "worldly" children have and my opinion would be different.

    P.S. Last time I checked - Catholics and Muslims were allowing their children to attend college and university and make choices about their career path.

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    15:13
    28 November, 2012

    Paisleydog

  • handelj84

    I've only just noticed your earlier comments about leaving it to teachers "Why not leave this to the trained minds of true teachers?" I'm a trained and qualified Science Teacher.




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    17:50
    28 November, 2012

    SchoolGovernor

  • Having taught Brethren children for 10 years in non-brethren schools and in a Brethren school I have to say I haven't witnessed any of the accusations that have been made against this community.

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    21:47
    28 November, 2012

    philboat22

  • Brethren kids are amongst the best I have taught. There society is a pleasure to work alongside, with people who are passionate about quality education, and careers for their students. The Campus I work at has the latest IT software.

    My Partner and I continue to wish them every success in their appeal for state support. They deserve it.

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    22:49
    28 November, 2012

    ZanQ

  • There is a lot being said against the brethren’s beliefs here.
    But they have their rights to interpret the scriptures how they will, just like Muslims or Catholics have their own strong views about things.

    Let’s respect them for the Christian beliefs they have.

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    23:26
    28 November, 2012

    Raymond898

  • ZanQ, you say and I quote

    “passionate about quality education, and careers for their students”.

    As you are new to the debate and you claim to be a teacher of Exclusive Brethren children can you confirm answers to the following –

    1. That Exclusive Brethren children are restricted in the type of career they can choose, for example they can not be Teachers, Firemen, Lawyers etc ?

    2. That Exclusive Brethren children are not allowed to pursue an on campus University education ?

    These questions are genuine and I am working on the basis that you are not one of the “Hit and Run” posts from above, those who make a broad sweeping comment then don’t post again when asked to support their statements or engage in debate

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    Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    23:26
    28 November, 2012

    UKUNI

  • I teach to post 16 and am proud of the results I am getting. What my students do after this is their decision. I do know that post-grad is taken very seriously.

    I am a regular visitor to the TES website – it’s a brilliant resource, very professional and keeps us in touch. However I'm not going to be drawn into using the site as a negative debating tool.

    I've studied many aspects of society in the last 20 years. I stand by my previous statement which is a considered one and I now restate it (with a spelling correction!):

    Brethren kids are amongst the best I have taught. Their society is a pleasure to work alongside, with people who are passionate about quality education, and careers for their students. The Campus I work at has the latest IT software.

    My Partner and I continue to wish them every success in their appeal for state support. They deserve it.

    I will not be returning to this debate.

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    11:36
    29 November, 2012

    ZanQ

  • I have just seen this blog post from 27 Nov 2012

    It seems very relevant to what is being discussed here. I have no idea who the person is but the truth is spoken

    “On Young People, Their Future – and Some Thoughts on the Exclusive Brethren - November 27, 2012”

    After attending the graduation ceremonies of two of my daughters in Dublin in recent weeks, I have been thinking about how difficult it is for young people to make a living in this current era of unemployment and widespread cutbacks. Most parents are apprehensive when their children set out to go to university – but then so thankful when they complete their degrees, accomplishing that goal they had set for themselves three or four years earlier. The Christian parent will pray for their son or daughter, in the knowledge that there is a much more important goal… they pray that their children will ultimately own the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord of their lives.

    Of course we have concerns during the years they attend university. We wonder about the company they keep and the influences that permeate their lives from all quarters – but we cannot keep young people locked away forever from the outside world, whatever our strongly held principles.

    If we truly know the Lord, we pray – and we continue to pray in faith for our children until the Lord takes us Home.

    With this in mind I have been thinking in recent days about a religious sect known as ‘the Exclusive Brethren’ and just how difficult it must be for young people who are born into one of these homes where legalism seems to be the order of the day.

    Exclusive Brethren young people are not permitted to have a third level education and many of them invariably end up working for a company or business which is run by their parents’ church colleagues. The Exclusive Brethren broke away from the ‘Plymouth Brethren,’ the latter having had its beginnings in Dublin in 1830, but formed its first congregation in Plymouth in 1831. John Nelson Darby, one of the original prominent preachers, separated from the Plymouth Brethren to form the Exclusive Brethren which is today governed by the Australian Bruce Hales who is known as ‘the elect vessel.’

    Some previous ‘elect vessels’ have been very controversial indeed, but what is most serious is the cult-like influence that they have over their members who amongst other prohibitions, are not allowed to eat or drink with those who are not of their persuasion. They must live in detached houses and pets are also prohibited. If young people decide that they do not want to be Exclusive Brethren, they are ostracised by their loved ones within the church. Today the Exclusive Brethren have spread throughout the world and have a presence in most European countries, while church buildings are built in such a way as to deter visitors. How far removed this is from the example of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Master Soul winner, who ate with publicans and sinners!

    One afternoon I was walking down the street in a local town, when I spotted two young ladies in headscarves. I had often seen other ladies dressed similarly and was curious to know what religious denomination they belonged to. (At that point I knew nothing about them.) I somehow got talking to one of the girls, although her friend was a little reluctant to talk to me at all and kept her distance. Obviously married quite young, they were pushing young children in buggies. As I listened to the girl who spoke to me about their beliefs, I also told her of my own personal experience of coming to know the Lord as Saviour. However, when I asked her of her personal experience, I learned that she had none at all. “I believe what I believe because this is what my parents brought me up to believe,” she told me. I came away from that brief conversation with a terrible feeling of sadness. This young girl had told me of all the ‘don’ts’ in her life but she evidently had no living personal relationship with the Lord Jesus as Saviour. She dressed modestly, lived without all the modern trappings of this life and perhaps even prayed and read the scriptures – but she appeared to have no joy and no knowledge of sins forgiven, no life of faith – but one of works alone.

    As I looked at my photographs of the young graduates of Trinity College, Dublin just recently, I thought of Edward Cronin, a young medical student in that same college over 180 years ago and how he was the one to start meeting with others for the ‘breaking of bread’ in a private house, because he was refused communion unless he joined one of the dissenting churches. John Nelson Darby then entered the equation but he was to draw others away with him, over a disagreement about prophetic interpretation. From 1848 the Brethren became two distinct groups; the open Brethren held to the principles upon which they were founded but the Exclusive Brethren became increasingly cult-like, with one central figure dictating how member families were to lead their lives.

    There have been many schisms throughout all factions of the Brethren movement, but today I pray for members of the Exclusive brethren and I especially think of the young people who are brought up within the system. Yes, and I pray too for my own children whom I love dearly – and for all children and young people, whether they have had the opportunity to go to college or not, in the knowledge that “except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchmen waketh but in vain.” (Psalm 127v1)

    http://readywriterpublications.wordpress.com/tag/exclusive-brethren/

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    Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    15:18
    29 November, 2012

    UKUNI

  • The overwhelming support for Plymouth Brethren schools from the (non brethren) teachers themselves is an impressive witness to the integrity of these excellent educational centers.
    It seems that a small minority of disaffected and uninformed persons is making a huge effort to discredit the Brethren in whatever way they can.
    Have they ever made the effort to visit a Brethren school or make direct contact with Head teachers to discuss their point of view?
    It seems they would prefer to stay at home and make erroneous and slanderous accusations rather than stir themselves and go and find out the truth!

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    9:31
    30 November, 2012

    AlbertLovell

  • Why can't we get an answer from the many educator's who support the Exclusive Brethren's position as to why they can support a position that does not encourage children to achieve their potential by pursuing post secondary education?

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    23:44
    30 November, 2012

    Paisleydog

  • a

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    10:26
    1 December, 2012

    JosephF

  • All,

    I have now visited the Focus Hornby School in Hornby near Lancaster. I was very impressed with the excellent learning atmosphere.

    They have an excellent Post 16 department where all students are encouraged to do A level studies where at all possible, one of the Dux students on the register got 500 odd UCAS points and had gone onto CIMA certificate. another school a student got 700 odd points! They have a very good careers department and an exellent Post Grad support system which encoured courses like ILEX, CIMA, AAT, ACCA to mention but a few! All students were expected to continue on with some Post Grad studies. Amazing emphasis on this I would say.

    Also they had just had one of their Cake and Coffee mornings where the villagers had been invited in to assist raising money for Lancaster Hospital for provision of monitors for the chidrens ward.

    Although I am very sympathetic with persons who have been offended by other denominations, I would insist the negative posters on this site or indeed any site, consider that anyone could expose their lies by simply visisting a school or finding out the truth from someone who knows the Plymouth Brethren.

    I hope this helps persons reading this site and comments posted.

    I wish the Brethren all the best and hope they get what is rightly theirs as a result of their contribution to the community in general.

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    11:06
    1 December, 2012

    handelj84

  • handelj84

    Why do you insist on calling them the "Plymouth Brethren". Even the brochures from "Focus Learning Trust " admit that the schools are operated by the "Exclusive Brethren". In fact, in all the "Focus Learning Trust" literature that I have, the denomination called "Plymouth Brethren" are never mentioned !

    They contain text such as the following

    "Focus schools are run by Christians known as The Exclusive Brethren"
    "For more information see www.theexclusivebrethren.com This is the only site endorsed by the Exclusive Brethren"

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    Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    11:46
    1 December, 2012

    UKUNI

  • UKUNI

    Yes that is a good website to go on. Been on a lot especially recently while I studied the lives of these persons.
    Shows the Exclusive and the Plymouth are clearly one and the same. I cannot see what that matters, the name I mean. Same people, same Christians.

    I still cannot get over what an excellent education system they have.

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    16:02
    1 December, 2012

    handelj84

  • Well of course the Exclusive Brethren have recently decided to change their name - after decades of refusing to say they had one! If you click on the website URL given above it will take you to a new website which is very different beast!

    Or you can go straight there - http://www.plymouthbrethrenchristianchurch.org
    but if you really want to know who they are, what they believe and how they treat former members you really need to listen to those former members. Most of us are not bitter, biased or determined to harm this group of believers - but we do want to see our families especially the fathers separated from their children, not allowed to see them

    And I notice that - unless I have missed it - my question about homosexuality has not been answered.

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    16:14
    1 December, 2012

    JillA-M

  • Handelj84 says “Shows the Exclusive and the Plymouth are clearly one and the same” and “Same people, same Christians”

    No they are not the same at all. Plymouth Brethren had a significant division in 1848 which created the Exclusive Brethren and the Open Brethren. The practices of the two groups are vastly different. For example -

    Open Brethren engage with other Christian Churches and allow members to visit other churches to hear Gods Word. The Exclusive Brethren don’t do either.

    Open Brethren don’t “separate” family and relatives who may not be a part of their group. The Exclusive Brethren do “separate” family and relatives if they are not part of the Exclusive Brethren.

    Open Brethren eat and drink with relatives not in their group and eat and drink with non Christians, following the model set by Jesus. Exclusive Brethren only eat and drink with other Exclusive Brethren.

    Exclusive Brethren follow the teachings and ministry from previous leaders such as James Taylor Jnr or J Symington, or currently Bruce Hales. Open Brethren don’t have any such leaders by these names.

    Those are just some distinct and fundamental differences.

    The Exclusive Brethren have invented the name Plymouth Brethren Christian Church simply to confuse. I say invented because it did not exist as a name till 2012.

    One of the Exclusive Brethren’s previous universal leaders was called James Taylor Senior. His teachings form part of what is known as “the recovery of the truth”. It was James Taylor Snr who stated

    “JT Volume 17 Page 190
    WM - He was publicly slighted by his father and his brethren.
    JT - I think so. Were we to go into the different churches in Christendom we should find that Christ is not there”

    I don’t see how that is a Christian thing to say or even think. That type of statement characterises all Exclusive Brethren ministry. The belief that “all others are wrong”. How denigrating to the work of Christ in other churches and in other Christians.

    Here another classic extract from a piece of ministry

    JT Volume 73 Page 178
    JT - Quite so. The systems have not got it; that is really the truth. They have not got the service of God, because they have not developed faith; they have returned to the idea of sight, and systematic things according to man's ways; such as Presbyterianism and Baptists and so forth. They have given up the idea of faith, and they have given up the idea of the Spirit of God. It is a terrible thing to think of, but it is really the truth, and it is making way for the terrible apostasy that is coming in, which the apostle speaks of in the epistle to the Thessalonians.

    So you see, the practice and centre doctrine at the heart of Exclusive Brethrenism is that “we are right, and all other churches are wrong” ! That’s indoctrination of the highest order. That’s destroying the Biblical thought of Christians fellowshipping and communing with one another, which is what happens and is allowed to happen in every other Christian church but the Exclusive Brethren.

    Now, maybe that is not taught in the Exclusive Brethren schools, but it is certainly taught in the Exclusive Brethren churches and in the homes of Exclusive Brethren. The bookshelves in the homes are full of the different coloured books of previous and current "universal leaders", (each leader had a different colour), the Brown Books, The Dark Blue Books, The Green Books, or the Black books of JN Darby.

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    Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    19:45
    1 December, 2012

    UKUNI

  • handelj84

    John, I'm pleased you found your local Exclusive Brethren school performing so well. All schools are regularly audited. I hope the inspectors will find similar findings. Do you know why they do not they do not have OFSTED performed by regular inspectors, but rather buy into the School Inspection Service? Surely this is an unnecessary cost for privately funded schools?

    Also you never answered or commented on my earlier questions. Didn't your visit to your local Exclusive Brethren school cover these questions?

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    20:58
    1 December, 2012

    SchoolGovernor

  • As you say, performing very well indeed.
    They are so dedicated, they are prepared to spend money on the SIS as you say, what a community, putting everything into education.
    I assume, they are allowed to run their budget as they see fit. All I do konw is they only get some gift aid benefits which I am told is a very low percentage, so if most of the cost is met by themselves, bully for them, stop complaining!

    As for the other questions, you would need to visit to find out the excellent way they practice their beliefs, not in the literal way I thought they would. True spiritual persons, discerned of no one, and by nobody. I take my hat off to them.

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    0:34
    8 December, 2012

    handelj84

  • handelj84

    John, you should be a politician - you manage to avoid answering questions and spin it back to promote The Exclusive Brethren. I assume you are a member of The Exclusive Brethren as you exhibit such sycophancy, so I guess you aren’t allowed to vote or be a politician. Phew!

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    22:41
    9 December, 2012

    SchoolGovernor

  • Politician I would never make!
    Your question as to Ofsted inspections, you would know the state sector has to use them and I believe some private schools would do too. Nevertheless they would have to pay whoever they use so what is the problem? Is there anything for nothing anywhere? Staff at one of the schools I went to said it would make no difference and who am I to question what they do?
    As for your other questions I would love to answer them but these people seem to me to operate a living system of Christianity that you would have difficulty putting in a rule book, like they said when I asked them, how do we manage on a long haul flight if we refuse to eat with other persons? Good point I say. Leave it to them.
    I am seriously considering applying to join them so one day your statement might come true.

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    8:57
    12 December, 2012

    handelj84

  • As a parent I am very loath to join in a discussion by professionals about education! However I would like to say why I, as a member of the brethren, send my child to a Focus School.

    1) I feel my children receive a well balanced and broad education. Whilst they are not exceptionally bright, they work hard and are achieving their potential. A laptop is provided regularly for one of my children who needs boosting in Numeracy.

    2) I value the safe environment that a Focus School provides. As a Christian, I am concerned to protect my children from any influence that could draw them away from the love of Jesus. There are many well documented challenges in state schools, e.g. drugs, knives, violence, ‘sexting’, (I noticed a question in your forum about Facebook being used by Yr5/6 pupils), that I want to protect my children from.

    It is true that I don’t have television, radio or unrestricted internet access in my household. However my employment requires me to go into many non-brethren households, and I often see children placed in front of a television for long periods of time, watching cartoon shows. The fact that my children cannot do this, is to my mind no detriment to them. The dangers of the internet are well documented, indeed only today the Prime Minister has proposed introducing online controls. (20/12/12).

    I do not feel that being taught in a Focus School has any detriment to my children’s education, or society at large. They are well versed in debate (especially with their parents!), have a wide ranging knowledge of current affairs, and are generally growing up to be well rounded citizens. I face the same challenges as any parent – they are sometimes rude, sometimes disobedient, and sometimes plain naughty!

    Many other faiths have government funding to teach their children, I believe the Plymouth Brethren should not be treated in a different way.

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    8:44
    21 December, 2012

    Stevenson2

  • http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-shropshire-12182333

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/brethren-school-kids-brainwashed/story-e6frg6nf-1111112262526

    Two very good reasons why the public might worry that the children in these schools are being brainwashed, etc. Seems not everyone has the same "lovely dovely" experience of all the teachers posting on here. I know my friend who taught at an Exclusive Brethren school in Australia didn't either, he left before his contract was even up, saying he didn't want to be part of such a corrupt organization who were breaking laws...

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    2:11
    4 January, 2013

    SuzieQutsie

  • SuzieBest
    Your Australian news article contains inaccurate information as I have checked this out as posted above, their schools promote all children to post 16 A levels then have a system to provide extensive tertiary education.
    I doubt the article being 2006 and inaccurate in part is actually a good reason as you state.

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    20:08
    13 January, 2013

    handelj84

  • Why are Exclusive Brethren children unable to train as doctors?
    Why are Exclusive Brethren children unable to train as nurses?
    Why are Exclusive Brethren children unable to train as para-medics?
    Why are Exclusive Brethren children unable to train as firefighters?
    Why are Exclusive Brethren children unable to train as teachers?
    Why are Exclusive Brethren children unable to train as police?

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    12:58
    17 January, 2013

    SchoolGovernor

  • Now I would think Free School status is reliant on their education before tertiary?
    So it would be good to stick to the point.
    Surely it is up to any adult to choose his or her career?
    And from what I know of it, the careers you have mentioned are not exactly top paid jobs for top academic achievers. Clever Exclusives I would say if it is true so what?
    My son is considering training as a doctor but the pay is not what he could get in a sales job so it looks like sales it is.
    A lot of whys, but your questions are irrelevant to the topic Mr Governor.

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    15:48
    17 January, 2013

    handelj84

  • I agree Mr Handel that these occupations require post 18 education to a greater or lesser degree. None-the-less GCSE's and A levels would need to be chosen appropriately in advance wouldn't they?

    It's just that I'd heard the Exclusive Brethren ban their young people from such careers. I think that's a great shame. Not only would they be personally satisfying but by serving in their communities benefit those communities too. After all, it's not about money is it?

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    16:06
    17 January, 2013

    SchoolGovernor

  • Yes Mr Governor the school I visited certainly offered an excellent range of post 16 subject options which would not hold any student from going into tertiary education with one of your career suggestions in mind. Each student is encouraged to excel in their studies and clearly they leave with the best achievemnt possible for their ability.

    What you have heard I have also but it cannot be a true statment to make just a twist on what is actually the case. They are clearly a prospering communtiy in every sense of the word so this would benefit the community in many ways, not the least the income tax angle!

    As for money, it is generally a driver for the career we choose, stretching ourselves wherever we can to achieve a greater income, take the strikes over the years!

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    9:38
    18 January, 2013

    handelj84

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    14:52
    18 January, 2013

    pendyffryn

  • As I've said here before John Handel, you should be a politician.

    While the post 16 courses could prepare students for further study it's very clear from a quick Google search that University is indeed banned. I still think that's a shame by not allowing students to develop their full potential. I also find it strange as Christians have typically favoured the 'caring & sharing' professions, but as these require Uni education they too are excluded. Sad really.

    Ah well, they could always go into sales.

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    18:21
    18 January, 2013

    SchoolGovernor

  • handelj84 (John Handel)

    I will respond to your post made on 18th Jan 2013, at 9:38 in two separate posts if I may. So this is the 1st response

    You say in post above on 9:38 18 January, 2013 and I quote –

    “As for money, it is generally a driver for the career we choose, stretching ourselves wherever we can to achieve a greater income, take the strikes over the years!”

    Handelj84,

    Focus Schools are apparently "Christian Faith" schools and one of the key aspects to trying to attain Free School status is their so called “Christian Ethos”

    - I understood from the comments by yourself and other Exclusive Brethren members and supporters and Focus School Teachers that the Exclusive Brethren follow the JN Darby Bible.

    - I understood from the comments so far that the Exclusive Brethren operate these Focus Schools on a “strict moral code based on the Bible”.

    - I understood from the comments so far that the Children in these schools are taught to respect the truth and teachings in the Bible

    So, if all that is true,

    Where in the JN Darby Bible does it say the Exclusive Brethren Children should be “driven” by “Money” in career choice, as Handelj84 claims ??

    I would challenge that attitude as rather odd for a group which claims to follow the teachings of the Bible and operate a strict moral code based on the JN Darby Bible, as publicly claimed.

    While it is true that both Christians and non Christians should be righteous and pay our way in life and support our dependants there is certainly no Biblical teaching that indicates Christians or the Exclusive Brethren, who claim to follow the JN Darby Bible should pursue “Money” in the way Handelj84 seems to indicate.

    In fact the JN Darby Bible teaches the opposite of what Handelj84 claims

    1 Timothy 6 verse10 - For the love of money is [the] root of every evil; which some having aspired after, have wandered from the faith, and pierced themselves with many sorrows. 11 But *thou*, O man of God, flee these things, and pursue righteousness, piety, faith, love, endurance, meekness of spirit.

    Luke 12 verse 16 - And he spoke a parable to them, saying, The land of a certain rich man brought forth abundantly. 17 And he reasoned within himself saying, What shall I do? for I have not [a place] where I shall lay up my fruits. 18 And he said, This will I do: I will take away my granaries and build greater, and there I will lay up all my produce and my good things; 19 and I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much good things laid by for many years; repose thyself, eat, drink, be merry. 20 But God said to him, Fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee; and whose shall be what thou hast prepared? 21 Thus is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. 22 And he said to his disciples, For this cause I say unto you, Be not careful for life, what ye shall eat, nor for the body, what ye shall put on. 23 The life is more than food, and the body than raiment.

    Handelj84,

    This may surprise you, but chasing as much money as possible, and pushing and driving our career on that basis, is not a model that Christ Jesus laid out for us in the JN Darby Bible.

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    Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    19:38
    18 January, 2013

    UKUNI

  • Handelj84 (John Handel),

    This is the 2nd response to your post on 18th Jan 2013 at 9:38.

    I have two main points to bring to readers attention.

    Handelj84 - You state and I quote “which would not hold any student from going into tertiary education with one of your career suggestions in mind”

    The career suggestions you are referring to which “SchoolGovernor” raised in his post of 17th Jan 2013 at 12:58 are the following –

    Doctors?
    Nurses ?
    Para-medics ?
    Firefighters ?
    Teachers ?
    Police ?

    1.
    The statement which you made - quoted as - “which would not hold any student from going into tertiary education with one of your career suggestions in mind” – gives the distinct impression that Exclusive Brethren Children “Can” pursue a career in these occupations as listed. It is absolutely, categorically “False” to make such an inference.

    Such occupations are banned ! I mean come on Handelj84, why do you not think there are any Exclusive Brethren Teachers in any of these “Focus Schools” ! Why do you not think there are any Exclusive Brethren Doctors, Nurses, Para-medics, Firefighters, or Police Officers !

    These occupations are banned for the following reason – Doctrines and teaching issued by previous leaders or so called “Men of God. These doctrines are found amongst the teaching in what is known as “The Recovery of The Truth” and amongst more recent doctrines and ministry from so called “Men of God” or Universal Leaders such as James Taylor Senior, James Taylor Junior, J Symington, J Hales etc

    These doctrines, teachings or ministry state that - associations, professional associations, memberships of professional bodies, memberships of accrediting bodies, memberships of any professional unions are not allowed. They are treated as an “Unequal Yolk”.

    The career occupations mentioned in the list above all involve some form of “association” or “membership”, even if its membership of an accrediting body or professional standards association to maintain standards of care, it does not matter, in Exclusive Brethren teaching it is still an “association” and therefore an “Unequal Yolk” !

    This is the real reason why these occupations are not allowed to be pursued.

    The Exclusive Brethren contributors to this TES article seem unable to come clean and be honest and truthful about the real reasons these occupations are not allowed, I cant think why !

    2.
    The career occupations in the list being discussed are often considered as genuine vocations, a “Calling”.

    They are career paths which involve “serving others”, providing “care” to fellow human beings. They are career paths which involve dedication, patience, self less spirit, devotion to others. They are career paths which involve caring for the sick, the elderly, children etc. They are career paths which help persons who find themselves in danger.

    Yes some of the careers listed may not provide as much money as a “sales career” or "business career", but they provide enough to live on and raise a family. It’s not about “money”, its about desiring to care and nurture for others. There is plenty of teaching about the care and nurture of our fellow man, in the Bible.

    Before anyone gets the wrong idea, I am not saying a career in sales or business is not right for a Christian, it is of course valid, but there is more to a career or occupation than just the "pursuit of more and more money" and there is something wrong when other careers are not allowed to be pursued.

    Where would human kind be if we had no doctors, nurses, firefighters, teachers, police officers etc !!

    Why should a person who feels drawn to one of these kinds of occupations be restricted from it because they are a member of the Exclusive Brethren ??

    It is "Astonishingly Hypocritical" that the Exclusive Brethren wont allow members to purse a career such as those listed because of a supposed “unequal yolk” - YET - members of the Exclusive Brethren are willing to rely on the services of the Police, Fire, Doctors, Nurses, Teachers etc when they require it !! and rely on the expertise from trained accredited professionals !

    If an Exclusive Brethren member really wanted to pursue a career such as those listed, they would have do to so “outside” of the Exclusive Brethren fellowship. In other words they would be “withdrawn from” and cast out of the group.

    I know of a case in Australia a few years back where a member of the Exclusive Brethren wanted to help his local community fight Bush Fires which were threatening houses. Yet was not allowed to do so because of the doctrines of “associations” and “unequal yolk” and because he would miss the “Meetings” !

    It makes me wonder if the Exclusive Brethren really understand the meaning of the parable of the “Good Samaritan” in the JN Darby Bible.

    For the benefit of all here is the extract from Luke 10 verse 25 onwards -

    25 And behold, a certain lawyer stood up tempting him, and saying, Teacher, having done what, shall I inherit life eternal? 26 And he said to him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? 27 But he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thine understanding; and thy neighbour as thyself. 28 And he said to him, Thou hast answered right: this do and thou shalt live. 29 But he, desirous of justifying himself, said to Jesus, And who is my neighbour? 30 And Jesus replying said, A certain man descended from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into [the hands of] robbers, who also, having stripped him and inflicted wounds, went away leaving him in a half-dead state. 31 And a certain priest happened to go down that way, and seeing him, passed on on the opposite side; 32 and in like manner also a Levite, being at the spot, came and looked [at him] and passed on on the opposite side. 33 But a certain Samaritan journeying came to him, and seeing [him], was moved with compassion, 34 and came up [to him] and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine; and having put him on his own beast, took him to [the] inn and took care of him. 35 And on the morrow [as he left], taking out two denarii he gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, Take care of him, and whatsoever thou shalt expend more, *I* will render to thee on my coming back. 36 Which [now] of these three seems to thee to have been neighbour of him who fell into [the hands of] the robbers? 37 And he said, He that shewed him mercy. And Jesus said to him, Go, and do *thou* likewise.

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    Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    19:48
    18 January, 2013

    UKUNI

  • UKUNI

    You are taking all I said totally out of context.

    Even our British MP’s see these people as honourable persons so try to follow a good example.

    If you have nothing else to do other than attack these friends of mine then I take the privilege of saying goodbye.

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    0:23
    19 January, 2013

    handelj84

  • Mr Handel,

    Do you have any information or comment on today's Sunday mail expose:

    Probe into strict Christian sect school that 'shut up' girl pupil for 37 days... for making Facebook page

    •School investigated over allegations of child cruelty and failure to teach the National Curriculum

    •Alleged abuse includes the confinement of six pupils who set up a Facebook page

    •Under the rules, liasons between pupils and rugby are also banned

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2265258/Probe-strict-Christian-sect-school-shut-girl-pupil-37-days--making-Facebook-page.html

    All seems a bit bizarre ...

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    19:00
    20 January, 2013

    SchoolGovernor

  • School Governor

    In a position of responsibility as a school governor, one would have thought you would be anxious to verify the accuracy of the article in the Mail on Sunday, rather than blindly believe everything you read in the Sleaze Press
    I would direct you to the comment attached to the Wilton Park School website http://www.focus-school.com/wessex_downloads/Wilton%20Park%20School%20Public%20Statement%20re%20MailOnSunday%20article.pdf,
    I have copied the posting below for your help
    Wilton Park School
    COMMENTS ON ARTICLE IN THE MAIL ON SUNDAY 20TH JANUARY 2013 BY MARK NICOL
    This statement has been prepared by the Trustees of Wilton Park School who legally affirm its accuracy having investigated all the facts.
    SUMMARY
    • The Mail on Sunday has published a defamatory and erroneous article which is a serious distortion of the facts which we emphatically and categorically deny as being both false and prejudicial.
    • At the time of writing (Tuesday 22nd January 2013 0900 hours) Wilton Park School has received no notification or advice of any impending investigation by the Wiltshire County Council, the Department of Education, the Police or any other agency
    • The headline ‘Christian sect school that ‘shut up’ girl pupil’ portrays the biased and inaccurate character of the entire article: it is completely untrue to suggest that this government registered and accredited school in any way acted upon directions or instructions from the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church.
    SPECIFIC REBUTTALS OF SOME OF THE ERRONEOUS STATEMENTS
    “Christian sect school” The Plymouth Brethren Christian Church is a mainstream Christian Church holding substantially the same doctrines as the Church of England. The PBCC is not a sect but is structured and operates on common Christian ground as taught by Holy Scripture which is available for all Christians.
    “A fundamentalist Christian church… is being investigated about claims of child cruelty” The Plymouth Brethren Christian Church is certainly a “fundamentalist Christian church” but the latter part of this statement is completely untrue.
    “Yesterday a local education authority confirmed it was investigating allegations of child cruelty and failures to teach the National Curriculum at…Wilton Park School”
    Wilton Park School has not received any notice or advice of any investigation whatsoever. Teaching at Wilton Park School is based on the National Curriculum and is completely open to unfettered inspection by relevant Government Authorities at all times.
    “The only girl was shut up for the longest number of days…”
    • The ‘only’ girl was never ‘shut up’ and the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church congregation
    in her parish have never taken any action restricting her activities.
    • The girl’s father was going through a difficult time and the girl’s agreed wish was to stay at
    home with her mother in support of the household.
    • This was done with the full knowledge of the school, and the school provided educational
    resources and support so that she could do her schoolwork at home temporarily
    • It is unconceivable that a national newspaper should denigrate a school that was showing
    support and care for a family that was going through a difficult time
    “… boys and girls, aged 16 to 18, are subjected to gender segregation at all times” This allegation
    appears next to a picture (two boys and a girl talking to each other) and is both completely false and
    damningly unbelievable. Boys and girls are taught together in the same classrooms and participate
    together in extracurricular projects and excursions. Nor are they restricted in any way as regards
    appropriate social contact. This preposterous allegation is clearly intended to ridicule our very
    treasured young people who enjoy and cherish very active lives as youthful members of our
    community.
    “Laptops are considered instruments of evil” this is completely untrue. Laptops are found in nearly
    all Plymouth Brethren homes and businesses and are used in all Plymouth Brethren Schools.
    Computers and mobile phones used by Brethren members have restrictions to prevent access to the
    unrestricted, immoral and contemptible filth and corruption that we regard as evil and which is so
    readily available on these electronic devices.
    “Liaisons and relationships between pupils are prohibited and monitored using CCTV” use of CCTV
    show our commitment to Child Protection and school security. According to an independent study
    last year, more than 2000 secondary schools and academies used 47,806 cctv cameras in total,
    including 26,887 inside school buildings. Wilton Park School is hardly unusual in this.
    “Pupils seldom play any competitive sport” this is another falsehood. Pupils play football,
    hockey, cricket, table tennis, basketball, volleyball, tennis and other competitive games. They enjoy
    competitions between houses within a school and also compete in carnivals between schools.
    “The Exclusive Brethren … formed in 1848. In that year they broke off from the much larger
    Plymouth Brethren… founded in 1832” The Mail on Sunday cannot even get basic historical facts
    right, which can be found in any encyclopaedia. The Brethren originated in Dublin in 1827, after
    J.N.Darby with others separated from the Established Church. In 1848 there was a division and some
    members set up other churches also known as “Brethren”. The Plymouth Brethren Christian Church
    and the other “Brethren” continue to hold JND’s teachings. The “Exclusive Brethren” name was
    ascribed to the PBCC by the press in the late 1950s.
    FURTHER FACTS ABOUT WILTON PARK SCHOOL:
    TEACHING AT WILTON PARK SCHOOL
    • Wilton Park is an excellent school with a fine record
    • The latest School Inspection report praises Wilton Park’s provision for its pupils’ wellbeing and makes no adverse comments about the school at all – see:
    • http://www.focus-school.com/wessex_downloads/wilton_park_report_2011.pdf
    • Teaching is almost entirely by non-Brethren professional staff and is based on the National Curriculum
    • Examination results are significantly above the national average
    CHILD PROTECTION AT WILTON PARK SCHOOL
    • Wilton Park School is committed to child protection and has a Child Protection Policy which is made freely available
    • Two Designated Persons are trained to deal with any issues that may arise and to liaise as required with the relevant agencies
    • One of the school trustees has overall responsibility to ensure that all legislation and directives are complied with
    • Use of CCTV shows Wilton Park’s commitment to school security and child protection
    CONTACT FOR MORE INFORMATION: +44 (0)20 8391 7620


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    23:21
    23 January, 2013

    jamescrowd

  • STATEMENT BY ELDERS OF THE PLYMOUTH BRETHREN CHRISTIAN CHURCH (PBCC)
    REGARDING ARTICLE IN THE MAIL ON SUNDAY 20TH JANUARY 2013

    We have seen the statement from the Wilton Park Trustees ‘COMMENTS ON ARTICLE IN THE MAIL ON SUNDAY 20TH JANUARY 2013’ and as informed of the witnessed facts we unequivocally support everything contained therein.
    The Mail article is a disgraceful misrepresentation of the true situation and is full of error and distortion.
    As regards the alleged ‘shutting up’ of the girl pupil:
    • The girl pupil was never ‘shut up’ at any time by her local elders or the congregation.
    • When the family was going through a difficult time, church elders provided support and counsel as a result of which the household has been kept together as a family unit.
    • The girl temporarily stayed at home in support of and with the full sympathy of her mother, and with the full knowledge of the school. Wilton Park School facilitated this by providing learning materials and support and in fact successfully sat her exams during this time.

    Teaching at Wilton Park School, as in all PBCC schools, is based on the National Curriculum and is carried out under the direction and guidance of non-Brethren professional teachers.
    The Plymouth Brethren Christian Church believes strongly in the sanctity of marriage and the family and this is reflected in the Christian ethos of the school.


    Peter Trevvett Garth Christie Graham Reiner John Rich Julian Aris Bruce Hazell Keith Birch

    WEBSITE: factual information about the PBCC and our beliefs and practices can be found on www.plymouthbrethrenchristianchurch.org
    CONTACT FOR MORE INFORMATION: 020 8391 7620

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    23:45
    23 January, 2013

    schoolcaretaker

  • Statement from the PBCC regards the Sunday Mail article

    "The Plymouth Brethren Christian Church is a mainstream Christian Church holding substantially the same doctrines as the Church of England"

    That is total unfounded misleading nonsense !!!

    There is nothing "mainstream" about the Exclusive Brethren at all !!!!

    The Exclusive Brethren do NOT practice or believe the same doctrines as the C of E - that is just nonsense !!!

    "Question"
    What mainstream church or Cof E Church practices the following -

    - Withdrawing fellowship from a Christian who leaves the church to go to another Christian Church ??

    - Members of the Church are not allowed to eat or drink with members of any other Church, Other Christians, or anybody else ??

    - Follows the doctrines, ministry and written words of the following supposed "Men of God" - JN Darby, JB Stoney, FE Raven, James Taylor Senior, James Taylor Junior, J Hales, Bruce Hales ??

    - Members are not allowed to fellowship or have communion with any other Christian Church ??

    - The Church follows the doctrine and practice established by JN Darby in his ministry about "Clergymen". This is a document entitled "The Notion of a Clergyman - Dispenstationally a sin against the Holy Ghost". It is this document which is obeyed and means the Exclusive Brethren think that "ANY" Church which has Clergy, Pastor, Eldership, is wrong and in error and Evil ??

    - What mainstream or Church of England Church restricts its members in the type of occupation and career they can pursue ??

    - The church divides and splits up family if one member of the family leaves the church to go to another Christian Church ??

    - The Church will not allow its members to fellowship with, eat or drink with, visit, speak to, have normal family relations with any relatives who are not part of the Church ??

    In ALL of these specific points the "Only" Church that practices them is the Exclusive Brethren

    These specific practices are "NOT" followed by the Church of England and are "NOT" followed by "ANY" other Church

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    Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    7:58
    25 January, 2013

    UKUNI

  • That's an intense response to my simple question of "Do you have any information or comment on today's Sunday mail expose:"

    It's also interesting to see UKUNI's response to that intense response. It does look like the PBCC is indeed nothing like the CofE. I wonder what else is inaccurate in that statement?

    It looks like this story is going to run and run. I'll keep watching to see how the authorities handle this.

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    16:42
    26 January, 2013

    SchoolGovernor

  • I saw the recent story of kids in an American Exclusive Brethren school doing un-protected asbestos removal from their school building, allegedly to save money.

    http://www.wkyc.com/comments/277343/45/Investigator-Students-gut-asbestos-filled-building

    Is this true?

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    17:19
    26 January, 2013

    SchoolGovernor

  • The link refers to the Exclusive Brethren: Parliamentarians gather evidence of alleged 'harm' from former Plymouth Brethren

    http://www.thirdsector.co.uk/bulletin/third_sector_daily_bulletin/article/1168609/parliamentarians-gather-evidence-alleged-harm-former-plymouth-brethren/?DCMP=EMC-CONThirdSectorDaily

    where Baroness O’Loan said she had not yet decided what she might do with evidence given to her but that she was concerned about the restrictions of the Brethren way of life, and its effect on children.

    "At the moment we are just gathering evidence," she said. "We have not decided what we would do next.

    "But we need to know more. If this organisation is being funded by us because it’s a charity, we need to be sure that its charitable status is justified."

    She said she was concerned about the fact young people were not allowed to go to university or join groups outside their own community.

    O'Loan said she was also keen to find out whether the disciplinary process of "shutting up", where members of the congregation stopped speaking to a particular individual, was practised on children.

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    17:56
    30 January, 2013

    SchoolGovernor

  • School Governor

    This link should help you.
    Click on the video and listen to an excellent description of a school any teacher would be proud to be employed by.

    http://www.glenvaleschool.com.au/Glenvale/School.html

    No harm done as you can see.

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    14:32
    13 February, 2013

    handelj84

  • Thanks.

    Did you read this article?

    http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/greens-mp-takes-aim-at-brethren-loophole-20090822-eugf.html

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    7:26
    14 February, 2013

    SchoolGovernor

  • Yes that is a very old media article which reminds me of the old saying; "do not believe everything you read in the papers". And rightly so.
    I posted a link to a factual, witnessed, irrefutable video which is a joy to watch and listen to. A school for any Governor to be proud of.
    You could also try; http://www.plymouthbrethrenchristianchurch.org/
    Click on the Westminster video for an excellent show!
    Happy viewing.

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    16:09
    14 February, 2013

    handelj84

  • Ah yes, thanks. Paul Flynn MP commented on this PR campaign here:

    http://paulflynnmp.typepad.com/my_weblog/2013/01/how-mps-were-conned.html

    But you know that - I spotted your name as a commentator there and on his other posts too. Must keep you busy.

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    14:53
    17 February, 2013

    SchoolGovernor

  • And now we have yet another news article (below)!

    John Handel aka handelj84 however, who is pretending to be golly knows what, as it keeps changing, but who is obviously employed to do free badly run PR for the Exclusive (now calling themselves) Plymouth Brethren as he is quite clearly a member, would have us all believe that the literally thousands of articles that are now available worldwide, reporting the huge range of Human Rights abuses and frightening and bizarre control which this group practices on its members, many of whom are just innocent children, are of course ALL untrue, every single one of them, as of course only the PBCC or EB as they used to be known can be totally truthful always!...(me being very sarcastic)

    Not only is this totally absurd and extremely demeaning of our God given intelligence, I am also reminded of the saying, there is no smoke without fire!

    'Witch-hunt' as exclusive school at centre of cruelty claims shuts its doors

    By Mark Nicol PUBLISHED: 01:26 GMT, 27 January 2013

    An Exclusive Brethren school at the centre of an investigation into pupils being ‘confined’ after logging on to Facebook has closed following a Mail on Sunday expose.

    Wilton Park School shut its doors last week causing many of its 163 pupils to miss classes. A spokesman said it closed partly due to adverse weather but also after a breakdown of trust between staff and pupils.

    Last week this newspaper reported claims about the school’s strict disciplinary regime. It includes a ban on sending emails and the censoring of textbooks, in keeping with church teachings on subjects such as gay rights.

    Wilton Park School in Wilton, Wiltshire, closed last week following a Mail on Sunday expose; Members of the separatist sect are also banned from watching television, surfing the internet or visiting the cinema.

    Sources at the school in Wilton, Wiltshire, described an internal investigation launched by church elders as a ‘witch-hunt’ intended to find out which teacher had made the abuse claims in a dossier to the Department for Education.


    More...

    'I was raped by leader of Exclusive Brethren': Shock testimony from man who alleges he was abused as child by 'Big Jim' Taylor rocks church's claim to charitable status

    The 14-page report described six pupils being confined to their homes, a measure known as ‘shutting up’, and has triggered an inquiry into child cruelty by the local education authority and police.

    In a letter to The Mail on Sunday the Head Boy wrote: ‘Wilton Park is a happy, thriving school. We urge anyone who reads this letter who can help to bring back normality to the school to do all they can to resolve these issues quickly.’

    A Brethren spokesman said: ‘Students are continuing their education at nearby schools while the allegations are investigated.’

    The church denied that the school or the church ‘shut up’ a pupil.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2268944/Witch-hunt-exclusive-school-centre-cruelty-claims-shuts-doors.html#ixzz2M4AX0b7t

    I note that some of these poor school teachers have contacted Richard Stay, a Councillor in Bedford with information which shows they are not even allowed by these schools to have Union representation, which I believe is against the law and that they feel they are being victimized for putting the safety of the children first and foremost. So shame on the school and the Church or whatever you want to call them for not upholding this.

    See more at:
    http://cllrstay.blogspot.co.nz/2013/02/the-focus-learning-trust.html#comment-form

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    3:44
    27 February, 2013

    SuzieQutsie

  • It’s assumed that the Exclusive Brethren/Plymouth Brethren Christian Church are protestant evangelicals like their distant cousins the Christian Brethren. I am personally convinced they are a quasi-Christian cult and are not fit persons to be running schools in the UK.

    I’ve watched discussions with Exclusive Brethren members and outsiders over Christian doctrine on http://cllrstay.blogspot.co.uk/ where Councillor Stay is working to expose the realities of this group. These discussions always lead back to sayings of their own leaders or additional doctrines such as ‘the recovery’ and their leader being lord of that recovery which are not found in mainstream Christian doctrine. http://cllrstay.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/is-this-threat.html in particular is very revealing.

    Looking at http://wikipeebia.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=21 a site for ex-Exclusive Brethren recently set up the following post, particularly the questions from The International Cultic Studies Association re-asserts the question of who or what are we dealing with here?

    QUOTE:

    The word has several meanings, two of which are very common: the theological and the sociological meanings.

    Some authors define a cult by its deviation from the historical beliefs central to Christianity. This is sometimes called the theological definition of a cult.

    For example, Dr Walter Martin has defined a cult as “A group of people polarized around someone’s interpretation of the Bible and characterized by major deviations from orthodox Christianity relative to the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith, particularly the fact that God became man in Jesus Christ.”

    Rather similarly, Dr Gordon Lewis has said, “A cult is any religious movement that claims the backing of Christ or the Bible, but distorts the central message of Christianity by (1) an additional revelation (2) by displacing a fundamental tenet of the faith with a secondary matter

    The Exclusive Brethren in my opinion fall within these definitions, but it would be quite impossible to convince them that they do, because there is no agreed definition of “orthodox Christianity” and no universal agreement about which of its beliefs are central or cardinal. Different cults that all claim to base their beliefs on the Bible all interpret it differently and select different scriptures to emphasise. Orthodoxy is my doxy; heterodoxy is someone else’s doxy.

    The word cult also has a very different meaning and definition: the sociological definition. When the Ex-Brethren community use the term cult we usually mean it mainly in its sociological sense, and there are objective criteria by which you can decide whether a particular body is a cult.

    The International Cultic Studies Association has a list of the defining characteristics of a cult. Any organisation that has most of these characteristics tends to be called a cult.

    1. The group displays excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader and (whether he is alive or dead) regards his belief system, ideology, and practices as the Truth, as law.
    2. Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.
    3. ?Mind-altering practices (such as meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, denunciation sessions, and debilitating work routines) are used in excess and serve to suppress doubts about the group and its leader(s).
    4. The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel (for example, members must get permission to date, change jobs, marry—or leaders prescribe what types of clothes to wear, where to live, whether or not to have children, how to discipline children, and so forth).
    5. The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s) and members (for example, the leader is considered the Messiah, a special being, an avatar—or the group and/or the leader is on a special mission to save humanity).
    6. The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which may cause conflict with the wider society.
    7. The leader is not accountable to any authorities (unlike, for example, teachers, military commanders or ministers, priests, monks, and rabbis of mainstream religious denominations).
    8. The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify whatever means it deems necessary. This may result in members' participating in behaviours or activities they would have considered reprehensible or unethical before joining the group (for example, lying to family or friends, or collecting money for bogus charities).
    9. The leadership induces feelings of shame and/or guilt in order to influence and/or control members. Often, this is done through peer pressure and subtle forms of persuasion.
    10. Subservience to the leader or group requires members to cut ties with family and friends, and radically alter the personal goals and activities they had before joining the group.
    11. The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members.
    12. The group is preoccupied with making money.
    13. Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group and group-related activities.
    14. Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members.
    15. The most loyal members (the “true believers”) feel there can be no life outside the context of the group. They believe there is no other way to be, and often fear reprisals to themselves or others if they leave (or even consider leaving) the group.

    By my tally, Exclusive Brethrenism shows at least 12 out of 15 of these characteristics, bringing it beyond argument within this definition of a cult.

    END QUOTE

    In conclusion, I applaud the DfE for not granting them Free Schools. I think that would have been a grave mistake.

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    14:10
    3 March, 2013

    SchoolGovernor

  • School Governor

    This link should have helped you before.
    Click on the video and listen to an excellent description of a school any teacher would be proud to be employed by.

    http://www.glenvaleschool.com.au/Glenvale/School.html

    No harm done as you can see.

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    21:50
    5 March, 2013

    handelj84

  • Thanks John,

    I did view it before. With any promotional meterial it's wise to take it with a pinch of salt. I think I've now exceeded my weekly healthly living quota for this week!

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    12:39
    6 March, 2013

    SchoolGovernor

  • The Exclusve Brethren worldwide is equivalent to 1/8 of the population of the not very large UK city in which I live ... of course the UK education system could asimilate that number of children in this group back into state system. The reason the EB should not have free school status is that they are not suitable people to be in charge of youngsters education. This is not persecution of a Christian group as their practices and doctrines are as un-Christian as it is possible to be, despite being ostensibly based on the bible. The fundamental purpose of their schools is the control their children and to avoid contact with non-brethren children. They appear to be willing to water this down slightly and attempt to mislead the authorities in order to obtain tax payers money.

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    21:34
    9 March, 2013

    GwenW

  • Having arrived at this article, only recently, I do not consider it to be contentious. It is a fair piece of balanced reporting covering the essentials of the matter, quoting the Focus Learning Trust's "information officer," thus giving this organisation plenty of opportunity to state a case. I am rather worried, for obvious reasons, concerning the first batch of gushing reports from teachers. I would be interested to know if they feel just a little vulnerable; do they have full Union affiliation?. Referring, once again, to gushing comments, I note that Mr Handel (could that be John Handel of Carlisle?) kicked off with a slightly ungrammatical contribution and has sprinkled the forum, extensively, since. I did note on another commentary forum that he said he knew the Brethren very well, both in business and socially. Since the Exclusive Brethren do not mix socially with outsiders, he must be one of them; not likely to be unprejudiced in his commentary. However, he is a very, busy little "B" buzzing around all the forums

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    9:34
    16 March, 2013

    Illuminator

  • Teachers 'feel they are being victimized for putting the safety of children first and foremost'?? Is going to the Mail on Sunday really a professional way to report alleged Child Safeguarding issues?

    This was nothing but a deliberate attempt to denigrate the School, evidenced by the fact that the school has now been investigated and completely cleared of any wrong doing.

    http://m.thirdsector.co.uk/article/1175581/County-council-police-dismiss-complaints-against-Brethren-school

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    8:51
    28 March, 2013

    Stevenson2

  • I find the attitude displayed by the previous poster Stevenson2 a rather odd one.

    Yes we should be absolutely grateful that nothing was uncovered during the investigation into this one school (O and for information details were sent to the relevant authorities long before the article came out in the Daily Mail), but just because allegations are raised does not mean persons are trying to “denigrate” the school.

    For example, in the UK we have recently had the issue of “whistleblowers” in the National Health Service and the service issuing gagging orders to suppress any public exposure of concerns. This went right to the UK Parliament who have now clearly stated that gagging orders on whistleblowers are illegal and people should be free to raise concerns publicly and to the relevant authorities, without fear

    What this shows is that employers and employees have a “duty of care” to expose concerns, this is especially important when children are involved !!

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    Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    22:59
    28 March, 2013

    UKUNI

  • The trouble with all of this, is not necessarily how cultish the sect is, or how obscure their behavioural differences are - but that they cannot be part of democratic or governance process. They state officially, that voting is strictly prohibited, citing their belief of God's Will in all elections - regardless of candidate or party - and as God's Will, they must accept due process.

    They are also told not to converse with political parties, or get involved with ANY government control edict- which OBVIOUSLY includes school governance by definition.

    They do however, say that they protest policies by the government if it interferes with their religious belief or conduct. How convenient. So, it's God's Will to bring to election a party - but can protest their policy if it doesn't suit them. So, basically, they can protest their own God's Will when it suits them.. Hmmm.

    More importantly, IF they cannot - or will not - demonstrate a democratic right through choice and religion - then they CAN'T move the goal posts and ask for funding and free school status when it suits them. After all, you have accepted the schools on offer - by your OWN God. So live with it.

    Free schools MUST - by definition - accept all creeds, so stating that they would "cope" if they had to was alarming. The school could not have a sports or exercise involvement in any way, or use IT teaching methods beyond very strict guidelines. The children would suffer. Indoctrination, may not be exercised deliberately - but WOULD by association. It's the same thing.

    Non-believing parents would be wary of such policies, even if not official, but just implied or casual. How would they even know what their children are being taught, or what they may pick up whilst at the school?

    The last point, is that the school would have a Brethren council running it, and therefore would be too narrow minded to follow State open guidelines in education - especially in acceptance of full curricular and extra curricular social activities vital for a child's healthy development and well being.

    This is NOT a trivial point.

    Stating how well 'their' members' children stack up in study results, or how polite they are is frankly irrelevant.

    In conclusion:-

    When they want to take part in community, democracy, governance, renounce cruelty to members (which they STILL practice, including separatism and punishments for children (some psychologically and physically cruel) that are harsh by more conservative modern standards) and demonstrate logical reasoning to the Government - untainted by convenience when it suits them or to put it bluntly :-

    "..We don't want to take part in your society, get involved with you, vote for you, or have anything to do with you, offer balanced views on the world at large, teach the news, involve children in healthy pursuits like sports activity.. - But can we have some money please to run a school only for us and our people? ..After all, it's not fair, THEY all get some, why can't we?"

    ...When they want to take part in NORMAL society, they can make a claim. But until then - they don't have the right.

    And THAT'S the rub.

    Name & Address Supplied
    Teacher & Head teacher for 23 years,
    School governing body, and now elected
    Borough Councillor

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    5:20
    4 May, 2013

    Orchid71

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    21:31
    9 May, 2013

    JosephF

  • I have been viewing this site but haven't felt necessary to post until I notice that Suzie is recommending Richard Stay, a councilor in Bedford who has information...
    Before readers drink this down whole, just check him out on:
    http://www.caddingtonvillagenews.com/blog/index.php?id=98lg9x6p#.UYwJLbWG2Kg
    Enough said? Quite an eye opener for some of the falsities posted on this site too...

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    21:38
    9 May, 2013

    JosephF

  • Intriguing contribution to the debate JospehF, I note with interest you have been an active blogger recently on any site mentioning the Exclusive Brethren, commenting in support of the group even when faced with evidential facts, documents etc which show the group as a damaging, family dividing, aberrant group.

    I have done some research into the site you mention

    The levels of defamation and personal attack it contains, without being supported by facts and truth, are simply outrageous. The site is a complete disgrace with absolutely no moral standards or credibility in fact whatsoever. It is a site full of innuendo and very personal & nasty comments.

    - Comments supporting the Exclusive Brethren using the fictitious name of Plymouth Brethren, are allowed to be published by the editor even if they are without evidential fact or the exact opposite from the truth.

    - Comments which are simply smears against Richard Stay are allowed to be published, as are personal attacks against other former members of the Exclusive Brethren who are exposing the groups damaging practices and damaging doctrines

    - However, comments supporting Richard Stay in his campaign to expose the Exclusive Brethren are hardly ever published, and comments refuting the nasty outrageous personal attacks are also hardly ever published

    It is a site which has clearly been “used” by Exclusive Brethren members (often posing as locals or other disguises), to attack those who are standing up for truth and are exposing the EB for the damaging group it really is.

    The site you mention has no credibility at all

    You make the statement

    "Quite an eye opener for some of the falsities posted on this site too..."

    Please can you list the falsities you think there are ?, making wild statements like that with no supporting comments or evidence means absolutley nothing

    So please list for all to see, what the false points are, that have been posted ?

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    Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    9:37
    16 May, 2013

    UKUNI

  • While we all wait for “JosephF” to explain his claim of “falsities” that have been put onto this site and give examples, lets look at some recent comments by the leader of the Exclusive Brethren Mr Bruce Hales (BDH), about their “Faith School Status” in Australia and how it was achieved !

    WARNING NOTES

    - The following quoted extract was made in a supposed Bible Reading discussion in a meeting room which the Exclusive Brethren call a “Gospel Hall” !

    - These “Halls” have “Places of Public Worship” status and claim rebates as per “Places of Religious Worship” rules, just as the ones in the UK do

    - Exclusive Brethren transcribe, print and publish their spoken word “meetings” held in their meeting halls and especially the words of their leader Bruce Hales (BDH)

    - This extract contains evidence of manipulation of authorities through misleading and deceitful claims / actions, by the Exclusive Brethren !

    Disclaimer: It is acknowledged that these references were published originally by the Bible and Gospel Trust and are posted here under the international laws which allow any Copyrighted works to be critiqued

    BDH Vol. 125 pages 233-234

    Start of Quote

    B.D.H. . . . We've been pretty — what's the word? — we've been pretty softly treated in Australia for our schools, haven't we, John?

    D.C.B—i. Is it confirmation the Lord is with us? . . .
    . . .
    B.D.H. . . . See, we've been pretty softly treated. I don't know. What helped us in the schooling matter in Australia, or where we live, whatever you call it, whatever you call the place, was that we went by J.S.H.'s counsel to the letter, to the letter. That right, John?

    J.K.A. Yes, that's true. Your father had a vision.

    B.D.H. Yes, he did.

    J.K.A. And I often wonder whether the government in one sense is, it's a reward for his dedication and vision...

    B.D.H. Yes.

    J.K.A. ...on behalf of the people of, of the saints.

    B.D.H. Yes. We can't take it for granted, we have to be watchful, we have to be on our guard; we know that, I think. You learn from experience that you can take nothing for granted. But I've never seen doors opened so well as in that early period of the time when we went. We didn't really know what we were doing, specially — l’m not just trying to personalise it, but basically it was John and myself. And Phil McNaughton was there, he's always been a pretty important man. He's always had some sort of a title. Me and John, we didn't have titles too much, but we gave Phil a title. We had cards, we used them when we needed them, and we threw them away after that. But you can always give yourself a title. When you need a card, just make it up, just get it printed off. You can call yourself anything, basically, whatever you need, whatever is required for the interview, just to impress the people that need to be impressed.

    End of Quote

    Wow,

    So this organisation, which claims to be "Christian", manipulates those in authority to ensure that the organisation gets its own way ! They do this by "making it up" ! ( Lying) !

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    Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    13:10
    18 June, 2013

    UKUNI

  • As a teacher myself of 32 years experience, I am extremely suspicious of the sheer number of posters to this debate who

    (a) claim to be teachers or administrators in one of these schools,

    and

    (b) have absolutely nothing but gushing praise for them.

    Sorry, but no school, and no system, is as perfect as some of you obviously want everyone to think. If you have no critical-thinking skills; if you are so easily convinced there are absolutely no problems whatsoever where you are; if you can think of no way at all that improvements could be made, then I'm glad you're not teaching my children, who I would like to think will emerge from the education system being able to think for themselves and to choose whether or not they want to attend university.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    22:01
    18 August, 2014

    hayaman

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