Christian sect aims to sponsor flagship school

Telegraph, UK/June 23, 2007
By Graeme Paton

An evangelical Christian sect that considers television and computers evil is in talks with the Government about sponsoring a city academy, it became clear last night.

Members of the Exclusive Brethren met Jim Knight, the schools minister, to discuss the possibility of backing one of Tony Blair's flagship schools.

The sect believes that the world is the domain of the devil and that children should be taught in "safe places."

Its educational division, the Focus Learning Trust, already runs 37 private schools - which have been highly-praised by Ofsted - even though pupils are denied access to modern technology and sex education is banned.

Responding to a parliamentary question from the Liberal Democrats, Lord Adonis, the education minister, said that the organisation had made "a number of representations to the Government concerning the establishment of an academy or a trust school" and that Mr Knight had discussed the proposals with Focus Learning Trust officials. Lord Adonis said that there were no "current" plans to open state schools linked to the group, but did not rule out the possibility in the future.

The group's 15,500 followers in Britain must abide by strict behaviour codes, and socialising outside the sect is strictly forbidden.

At home, families shun televisions, radios and computers.

In 2005, Ofsted praised the Focus Learning Trust, saying that it provided "good support to its schools" and that the quality of teaching was "generally good".

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