Head slams timing of bible scheme

By Tim Clarke 17/05 Updated: 17/05 17:18

Buy photos » Anger - Neil Morris with the copy of the King James Bible sent to him and thousands of other headteachers. Picture by Geoff Berkeley.

A FURIOUS headteacher has branded the Government “bonkers” and out of touch for sending a copy of the King James Bible to every primary and secondary school in England.

Neil Morris (pictured), from Christopher Whitehead Language College, is one of thousands of headteachers to have been posted a copy of the Bible by Education Secretary Michael Gove to mark its 400th anniversary.

But Mr Morris said the timing of the £375,000 scheme, which has been funded by private sponsors, was an insult coming just weeks after Mr Gove put off tackling the huge disparity in school funding for Worcestershire pupils, until 2015.

He was speaking ahead of his appearance on this weekend’s BBC Sunday Politics show, discussing the national school funding formula. Worcestershire currently receives £482 less per pupil than the national average.

Mr Morris said the Government should be focusing its efforts on addressing the funding gap rather than securing money to send out Bibles to thousands of schools.

“The point I am trying to make is that the timing stinks,” he said.

“Yes, it’s a beautiful book, but I’d rather have the money thank you. I just find it bonkers what is coming out of the Government at the moment. This is when schools are catching water in buckets, having not got a roof that is fit for purpose. Schools have also got to cut courses, not because of the value of the course, but because they cannot afford the text books.”

Mr Morris, whose school received an outstanding Ofsted report from inspectors in 2010, said Mr Gove was out of touch with the struggles facing many schools, including his own, which has some buildings in urgent need of repair.

“I don’t know who is advising these ministers but they want to come and look at our school,” he said.

“We have seven buildings - some of them are brilliant but we have got a music block which is not fit for purpose, and every school in Worcester could probably say the same. It’s totally unfair the postcode lottery we are living in at the moment.”

In his letter accompanying the Bible, Mr Gove said he felt it was important that all pupils - of all faiths or none - should appreciate the King James Bible and its impact on the country’s language and democracy.

Worcester MP Robin Walker said he agreed the Government should be pressing ahead more quickly with school funding reform but supported the donation of the Bibles to schools.

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