OAC's response to National Secular Society report
OAC (Open Air Campaigners) was one of the organisations mentioned in the National Secular Society's new report accusing evangelical Christian groups of proselytising in state schools. The NSS says schools are being "targeted and exploited" and that the Government should issue guidance to schools setting out best practice for working with external visitors, especially where these are religious. Below is the response of Peter Kennelly, national director of OAC.
OAC Ministries GB is proud of and careful in our relationship with the hundreds of schools in scores of different areas up and down the country.
Every type of school, whether a state school, a faith school, a free school or an academy warmly invites us again and again. We know that this is because we are professional, act as the guests that we are, do not seek to evangelise or proselytise. In fact, we are inclusive, open and welcoming to everyone in the community of the school.
Our purpose is to serve the Governing body, head teacher, staff and children of the schools we have the privilege to visit. We are there to contribute to the education of the children, inform, serve, and to be a resource.
The majority of our time in schools is used in taking assemblies. We seek to help the children grow in their knowledge of the contents of the Bible. Because it has had such a significant part in British, Western and, indeed, world history it is vital that the children hear about it.
All of our involvement with any school is based solely on relationship. A good relationship with the head teacher and/ or the RE Coordinator is a prerequisite.
OAC is trusted because we are professional and do not cross any inappropriate boundaries. Indeed, often when the school knows that it is to be inspected by Ofsted, one of our staff is invited in to take the assembly. I imagine that this is for a number of reasons, as a help to the staff who do not have to concern themselves with preparing an assembly, to show local community involvement in the school, to ensure a well presented, relevant, fun assembly.
Our creative approaches provide memorable learning experiences so that any inspector can see the quality of assembly the children at that particular school enjoy throughout the year.