The Emmanuel Schools Foundation
"They asked me what I believed to be the most important duty as head of [philosophy, theology and ethics]. I replied by saying how important it was to prepare pupils for state examinations, but I was cut short by a sarcastic and disturbing comment - 'What is the point of sending young people out into the world with 20 GCSEs when they're going to go to Hell?'"
- Comment by ESF staff to prospective teacher Dr Simon Valentine. (See http://tinyurl.com/2mr2pa
"...The “values” being taught aren’t what we all consider to be Christian, (generally love, peace and acceptance) but the creationist version."
- Stefan Walker, former student at a Vardy school.
"the ferment in which education finds itself ... has risen slowly and terribly as the consequence of atheism which has only relatively recently been given intellectual credibility with the establishment of humanistic Darwinism as the prevailing paradigm."
- Jonathan Winch, headteacher at the Emmanuel College in Gateshead. The Guardian
"If assemblies touch on the terrible and eternal consequences of rejecting Jesus Christ they are acting as responsible warnings," Peter Fairhurst, English teacher at Emmanuel College.
The Emmanuel Schools Foundation controls three state-funded academies in the North East of England and aims to set up another four, primarily with public money. The three schools at present are Emmanuel College in Gateshead, King's Academy in Middlesborough and Trinity Academy in Doncaster,
The foundation is controlled by a wealthy philanthropist and successfull businessman, Sir Peter Vardy, who made his money through the Reg Vardy Group (car dealers).
He is almost universally believed to accept creationism but his public position on it is ambiguous and contradictory - we believe that the ambiguity is nothing more than a public relations ploy in the face of very adverse publicity.
Moreover, and worse still, Vardy has denied, in public, that creationism is taught in his schools. The evidence, including Vardy's other statements, so completely contradicts this that, if it were not for libel laws, we would point out the obvious conclusion that anyone can see from this section of our web site.
On the flagship BBC Radio 4 Today programme, Peter Vardy stated "I haven't introduced creationism, that is an absolute fallacy".
The interviewer then asked "I understand it happened at Emmanuel College".
To which Peter Vardy replied – "No it did not".
It is clear that the foundation has been highly active in promoting creationism in the Vardy schools (shorthand for the three schools the foundation has backed). It has also received substantial support from the Christian Institute in Newcastle with which it retains close links. Former head of Emmanuel College, John Burn, is a director of the Institute.
The foundation has employed headteachers and heads of science departments who are openly creationist and, indeed, some are creationist activists. They have stated these beliefs openly and publicly on many occasions. Several former pupils have come forward to confirm that creationism is indeed taught in Sir Peter's schools.
Their attitude cannot be expressed better than in the words of Steven Layfield (see Infiltration, former head of science at Emmanual College Gateshead (one of the three Vardy schools).
"Note every occasion when an evolutionary/old-earth paradigm (millions or billions of years) is explicitly mentioned or implied by a text-book, examination question or visitor and courteously point out the fallibility of the statement and, wherever possible, give the alternative (always better) Biblical explanation of the same data".
Notes on the Emmanuel Schools Foundation
"A sign outside the entrance states that when Emmanuel College opened in 1990, it was "Built and dedicated to the glory of God". Further on, the stone gateway carries the inscription, "The Lord has done great things for us and we are glad", a quotation from Psalms 126,verse three. Further still, the engraving on a stained glass window above the door reads, "In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth". (Northern Echo, 18th August 2003)
There is a long report, dated February 2006, available on the Internet about academy schools in the UK. It has been produced by the trade union Unison and provides a primer on the whole issue. It can be found at http://www.unison.org.uk/file/A2340.pdf.
A video on the Vardy schools by BCSE member and former King's student, Stefan Walker, can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bj31S2-Pa_E.
According to information on the web site of the Charity Commission there are two Vardy operations: The Vardy Foundation and Emmanuel Schools Foundation (formerly Vardy Educational Charities). Trustees are Sir Peter Vardy, Lady Margaret Vardy (his wife), Richard Vardy (believed to be his brother), David Vardy (believed to be his brother) and John Burn (Vardy Educational Charities only). Burn was formerly head of Emmanuel College and now works at the Christian Institute in Newcastle.
The registered charity numbers are 328415 and 1093739
The three Vardy schools are Emmanuel College, Gateshead, King’s Academy, Middlesborough and Trinity Academy, Doncaster (opened, September 2005).
The income of the trust was running at £2.3-£2.5m a year (2003-2004). The war chest as at 5th April 2004 was £14,284,000. 86% of the Foundation’s investments are in Reg Vardy PLC, valued at £13.8m. Emmanuel Schools Foundation has net assets of £27m as at August 2004. Vardy Foundation provided £900,000 to the charity in 2004; the remainder of its income (£12m) was from the state sector.
Involvement in following religious organisations:
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (not a religious fundamentalist organisation)
Youth for Christ (evangelical organisation, not known if fundamentalist)
Mercy Ships, a religious charity, nominally inter-denominational but believed to be largely Pentecostal.
Caring for Life, very definitely a religious charity (based in the UK, started by Baptists
Bolivian Community Project, a community Christian culture centre, understood to primarily be a health care centre also providing education. It is Scottish in origin.
Other Organisations in which Peter Vardy has been involved:
Columba 1400 Project – appears to be inspired by religion but not overtly religious.
University of Sunderland. Believed mostly to involve its business school. Reg Vardy PLC is based in Sunderland, Peter Vardy has donated £1m to the University and there is a Vardy art gallery located in the university. The University’s business school is located in the Reg Vardy centre.
Houghton Kepier School, Sunderland, purpose of funding unknown
J John, no details known
County Durham Foundation, appears to be basically non-religous
Peter Vardy is understood to worship at the Bethany Christian Centre (http://www.bethanychristiancentre.co.uk), Houghton le Spring. However, the denomination of this church, which is believed to be very small, isn’t clear from its web site. (According to the Plymouth Brethren's web site it's one of theirs.)
Peter Vardy achieved only one O level at school (http://www.angelfire.com/nb/lt/docs/called24.htm). This is understood to have been in music.
Peter Vardy's ambiguity on creationism can be seen in the following comments he has made:
"Quite how long it took him I don't know and frankly I don't care," he said.
"If God had wanted to create the Earth in six days he could have done," he added - but he said that he, as sponsor, had no say in what was taught in the schools.
See the BBC report where he is quoted at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/education/4946222.stm. It also states that the foundation (ESF) "holds that God made the world and all that is in it".
"ESF holds also that the Bible is God's Word to the world and that it is true."
The Northern Echo, 18th August 2003, leaves little doubt though as to Vardy's real position:
"I believe that God created the Earth and he created man in his own image," he was quoted as saying. "There are an awful lot of folks that believe in creation, and what we seek to do here is reflect a broad education, so in RE we tell them about creation, and in science we tell them about evolution. That is a rounded education."
"It is very narrow minded to teach evolution and not creation, and it is very narrow minded to teach creation and not evolution. Here, they get both."
Now isn't that strange because Peter Vardy is on record as having replied to the question "what about the 200 years of evidence that proves Evolution as fact?", by saying "I think that is brainwashing." And it also flatly contradicts what he told Radio 4 (see above).
So what on earth are we supposed to make of the following report in the Observer (Sunday July 11, 2004) in which he seems to be confused over creationism and the old age of the earth:
"For some reason people seem to believe that Creation is for nutcases and Evolution is the only answer," he said. "Actually, it's a difference of opinion. You can't prove Evolution conclusively, and obviously I can't prove Creation. But I'm not forcing anyone to believe that...'I believe God created the earth and that he created man in his own image. There are some way-out thinkers who believe that this happened 4,000 years ago, which is clearly wrong. But I don't personally wake up in the middle of the night wondering how old the earth is. It says in the Bible that He made the universe in six days and rested on the seventh. For all I know a day could be 6,000 years, it could be 6 million years, it could be 6 billion years. I'm not that interested, to be honest. But when I look at the mind of man and the intricacies of everything I see around me, I can't believe that started with a bit of slime. I just can't see it. What I am not doing is forcing my beliefs on children in our schools, but I don't expect the others to do it either."
Creationism inside Vardy schools
The second section of this report on the Emmanuel Schools Foundation can be found at Emmanuel Schools Foundation 2 and details the schools in greater depth.