The ERO has launched "a focussed evaluation to specifically look at the emotional and physical safety of all students.”
As a bisexual woman who was raised attending a religious school, these types of practices make my blood boil. I had friends in middle school and high school who came out and were effectively barred and excommunicated from the community—expelled from school, asked to no longer attend church and gossiped about by their former teachers and peers. The emotional blowback was immense on these children’s—my friends—lives. My parents were *literally* the only family who stepped in. This was an immense organization, not some tiny private school. Children were kicked out of their homes by their parents, had their entire social and educational structure ripped from them. It’s appalling and grotesque and changed my perception of the church forever. All because these fools choose to cherry-pick verses to fit their own narrative.
Thankful for you holding these clowns accountable. To damage small children during their formative years for not fitting into your small cherry-picked world view is unconscionable. Keep fighting the good fight🪱
Like a dog with a bone. I freaking love it. Because we all know as soon as we look away it's the status quo all over again. You have to keep shining the light to get people to clean up their act. The school will get safer too. As will the other schools that see that you don't get to get away with this stuff without people calling you out. Then we all shuffle slowly closer to equality. You are making a difference.
I have so many thoughts.
I’m not sure if BC is similar to an American charter school, but considering that it runs of taxpayer $ but still has enrollment with a waiting list and all that, it sounds like there is some crossover. There is a lot of danger when a school is allowed to have their own mission and values that don’t relate to learning, but rather instilling cherry-picked religious beliefs or “ethics,” but still runs on the dime of the community. There are plenty of amazing charter schools here in America, but also plenty of corrupt ones as well.
As a teacher, it breaks my heart to think of students whose identities are being invalidated or even being told they are immoral for who they have a crush on. It truly feels like censorship to not acknowledge or to damn sexualities and identities that don’t align with a school’s so-called morals. Makes my blood boil and makes me want to cry for those hurt by it at the same time. Gah.
My heart goes out to those students impacted by schools like this, and the lack of accountability and change being made by the governing bodies meant to keep them in check. It’s really shitty all around.
Thanks for keeping up with this and for the update. I think it’s great we have a thing called ERO, but I think like so many public resources, they are underfunded and under resourced. ERO are supposed to review schools every three years and I recently looked up own children’s school to see how their most recent review went and they haven’t had one since 2016. So they were overdue when the pandemic hit and haven’t caught up as things have started to settle. 3 or more years is a long time when children only attend that particular school for a couple more than that. And most especially when the issues to be addressed are as serious as this. I really hope that the renewed attention lights a fire under the ministry of education and ERO and they see this through properly.
Having worked in media or comms for a million years I have to say this new iteration of Ministry of Ed comms (the last four years or so) is fucking appalling. I’ve basically given up on sending them media queries because they never answer a question. On top of that when you send an OIA they give the person you’re doing the OIA about your contact details just FYI. Pretty fucking bleak and dangerous - especially if your queries are around right wing extremism and LGBTQIA+ representation in schools.
I dont want to go off on a rant, as I am prone to do, but my firmly held belief is this: there should be NO religious indoctrination in any school anywhere. No gubblemunt money to any religious organisation whatever, and all churches need to be taxed like the for profit "Businesses" they are. Separation of church and state, yo!
I love that you are shining a light on these things, and not simply letting it go. The world needs more of it!
I’d forgotten about the slight to your ethics! WTF, you’re an award winning journalist! ....on the podium with John Campbell. I like that ERO is telling the school that you enquired. Hope they said...’award winning investigative journalist DF was asking about the review’ and ‘maybe it’ll be his story in the awards next year’ Bring it on.
As a comms person here is a blow by blow account of what happened when your email popped into the Ministry of Education inbox:
2) Some poor schmuck on about $60k a year who probably reads Webworm calls his boss and forwards the email on with a suggested
4) Boss asks schmuck to reach out to the Subject Matter Expert (SME) who has been dealing with BC and get the latest. Boss then fowards your email to their boss cc'ing in about 17 people
5) "Fuck" x 17
6) An email thread occurs where people higher up the chain say vague things.
7) Schmuck writes up a clean clear media response which actually answers your question. Saves it. Sends it as an attachment to his boss.
8) Boss edits the attachment and sends to the email chain of 17 people with the ❗️"important" notification turned on in Outlook.
9) Boss gets 23 different versions of the same doc back. Some are completely rewritten. Some have tracked changes. Some "fix" minor "errors" which are actually against the Ministry's style guide.
10) Boss tries to resolve all these changes into one document and after 47 minutes he decides to put the mess into Chat GPT and get it to rewrite the whole thing. Copy. Paste. Sends it back to the Dep Sec who the quotes will come from for approval.
11) Dep Sec rewrites the whole thing again, hits send, then immediately calls the schmuck, who in their head is like "Why are you calling me?" and dictates further changes to them despite them not having the email.
12) Schmuck calls the boss, passes on the changes.
14) Boss makes changes, and sends response back to Schmuck to send to you.
15) Schmuck sees the bad grammar and mistakes, has a quiet chuckle to themself and then hits send.
16) Schmuck heads home and refreshes their personal inbox waiting for you to send out your next Webworm.
Oh I get so grumpy when the church claims marriage is this exclusive thing created by God. Nope. Originally it was just a legal process, nothing to do with church, God etc. Just your standard sale and purchase agreement.
This is such great work. Keep the heat on, hopefully they’ll be forced to change.
I wish the education system was more progressive. It’s not just the religious schools that are stuck in the dark ages. My daughters school is only just giving their uniform a revamp to include shorts next year. I mean, come on. She currently bikes to school in a pencil skirt.
At the core of BC's policy regarding LGBTQI+ is an unwavering belief that one is not "born that way" but is groomed or conditioned by the environment to be "deviant". Grooming is very topical these days and all the garbage coming out of the US regarding LGBTQI+ must be quite validating for them. From that standpoint they are sure that they can pray away the gay and convert the deviant individual even if secular and political positions say otherwise... because GOD. And BIBLE. So, as your coverage has clearly shown, they can change what's written on paper but that doesn't change their beliefs or practices.
How might ERO or even the MoE possibly be able to uncover conversion practices in a community that is so thoroughly mindfucked? Experience leads me to doubt the MoE will do anything of substance, particularly in an election year. ERO will put out a report that accentuates the positives and glosses over the serious issues with vague encouragements to review policies. In the meantime any students there who are grappling with a growing sense of self and identity that doesn't fit the deeply entrenched narrative will be feeling the fires of hell rapidly approaching.
The irony of an email reply from the ERO requiring a [sic]
I LOVE the name "Webworm", but it could have been called "Dog With a Bone"! Thanks for living up to your journalism award standards & following up on these things. Too many times in this media saturated world of crises (real & imagined), something is brought into the light of day but allowed to sink out of sight because journalists go chasing the next bright shiny story.
BC will only change over time if their practices become unacceptable to the community that they draw their students from, and in many cases I would suspect parents coming into the system now would not be aware of some of this, so the more publicity the better.
As an analyst that works primarily with evaluators (in the US), I totally get their response. The worst part about being an external evaluator is that you can scream until you're blue in the face but unless there are actual levers in place (eg consequences), all you're really doing is writing a report that can be summed up with 'the students desperately need your help - won't you please listen?'. Sometimes publishing the report publicly helps guilt them into changing, but honestly your old school sounds so totally arrogant that I don't even know if public pressure would make a dent.
I hope your Ministry has those levers outside of just dismantling the whole school.
You’re doing God’s work, David x