Los­ing faith in Alice’s Hu­man­ist ex­cuses

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - News -

YOU may re­call Pro­fes­sor Alice Roberts, the TV star and Hu­man­ist zealot, who made such a fuss about how she could not find places for her chil­dren in non-church schools. She said: ‘Seven out of the near­est nine schools to me were Church of Eng­land schools. I ap­plied to the two which weren’t and we did not get in there.’

The ac­counts of this clearly stated that she lived in Bris­tol. I was a bit baf­fled about this. Bris­tol coun­cil told me that, of the 108 state schools in the city that take pri­mary pupils, just 26 have church af­fil­i­a­tions. So there are 82 non-church schools, roughly two per square mile. This is prob­a­bly fairly typ­i­cal, as about 7,000 of 20,000 state schools are church schools, but many of the church schools are con­cen­trated in ru­ral ar­eas.

I do not know or seek to know where ex­actly Prof Roberts lives. But it seems to me that, if it is so im­por­tant to her to send her chil­dren to a non-church state pri­mary school, she ought to have been able to find some­thing to her lik­ing among 82 pos­si­ble schools in her home city. When I put this to the Hu­man­ists, they re­vealed that she doesn’t in fact live in Bris­tol at all. Coyly, they said: ‘With­out dis­clos­ing where Alice lives, I am afraid your premise, that she lives in the bound­aries of the city proper, is faulty.’ Per­haps, I won­dered, she’d cho­sen to live in a coun­try area, where the chances of find­ing a church school are known to be high. Who can blame her? But, in that case, was her com­plaint valid?

When I tried to dis­cover more from the Hu­man­ists, they sug­gested wrongly that I was seek­ing to know where she lived, and then fell silent.

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