Posted: Wed, 03 Jun 2020
If you're a supporter of the No More Faith Schools campaign you can help to make the case by lobbying your representatives, writing about your experience or supporting us on social media, says Alastair Lichten.
Ending faith schools is a gargantuan task, but it is possible. The problem isn't the mythical popularity or performance of faith schools. The problem is that it takes a lot more organising and effort to challenge the establishment and status quo.
Before lockdown, I'd started on a list of activities for our supporters to get more involved. Many of these can be done from home and while not every activity will be everyone's cup of tea, if all our supporters could take just a couple of these actions, we can build a powerful movement.
Here are my suggestions for 20 activities you can do today(ish) to support the campaign, grouped roughly in order of least to most commitment.
- Subscribe. The mailing list is a campaigner's most important tool. Subscribing will keep you up to date with our work – especially if we have your postcode. When we're deciding how much support we can give a local campaign and are trying to get it organised, knowing how many supporters we have in the area is absolutely key. Subscribe today.
- Sign the national petition. We strongly encourage supporters to sign and share our petition. It's not just a numbers game, but every single signature makes our case just a little stronger and adding a personal comment adds to the impact. The petition is also a chance to subscribe. Sign the national petition today.
- Support us on social media. You can follow us to keep up to date with our work and show how much reach our campaigns have. Our template tweets also make it easier to share core and local campaign messages with your followers with just two clicks. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram or send a tweet today.
- Write to your MP. We have a template letter to write to your MP about the campaign, though personalising your letter with local information always makes it more impactful. MPs' offices keep statistics on what topics their constituents have raised. Write to your MP today.
- Write to your representatives. Education is a devolved issue, so if you live in Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales we have template letters for you to contact your representatives. But don't forget your more local representatives. Local councils play an important role in decisions over schools and a local councillor willing to stand up for secular education can be a powerful ally. Write to your representatives today.
- Follow up. Personalising your letter and including local examples makes it more likely that you will get a personalised response. Politicians get a lot of template letters encouraging stock replies, so if you really want to stand out and ensure your MP responds personally, follow up on your letter. If you get a positive response, you can thank them and ask what actions they can take to support the campaign. Follow up today.
- Send a picture. Help show the campaign in action by sharing a picture. It could be of you with a No More Faith Schools sign or message, or a poster in your window. We can share these to encourage others to get involved. Send a picture today.
- Send a video. Record a short video explaining why you're saying "No More Faith Schools!" Make it as creative as you like and we'll consider featuring it on our YouTube channel. Send a video today.
- Support a local campaign We want every faith school proposal to face robust opposition at every level and make every effort to support secular inclusive alternatives. We always seek to work with local supporters and build a broad positive coalition. To do this we have overhauled our website to provide more support for local campaigns across the UK. Support a local campaign today.
- Let us know about a new faith school. If a new faith school is opening in your area, or a faith group is taking over a non-faith school, we can help. Let us know about a new faith school today.
- Write a testimonial. Statistics and theoretical arguments may win some people over, but sharing stories help many more empathise with those affected by faith schools and perhaps rethink their support. A testimonial can let people who've experienced similar issues know they aren't alone. A testimonial doesn't need to be overly long or complicated. It just needs to tell your story of how you've been affected by faith schools and what you think of it. If you're one of the hundreds who has shared a short story or talked about your experience in a comment on our petition, then you already have a starting point that can be fleshed out. Write a testimonial today.
- Write to your local paper. Most local newspapers are always on the lookout for content and almost all have some sort of letters page. They will always be looking for a local angle rather than theoretical arguments. Local news is closely read by politicians. Write to your local paper today.
- Attend an event. At the moment, our programme of physical events is suspended, but check out our calendar for information on talks going online. Events are a great opportunity to speak with potential supporters about the campaign, and to share ideas, knowledge and resources. Attend an event soon.
- Organise an event. Organising an event yourself helps the campaign reach even more people. It could be a one-off occasion or a chance to bring a new group together. Organise an event soon.
- Work with other groups. Are you a member of another group that could support the campaign? Your local political party or union branch may be interested in a talk on faith schools or supporting a related motion. They may also be able to provide training and support. Other groups from local debating societies to interfaith groups may be interested in the topic. Work with other groups today.
- Speak with fellow parents. Why not have a chat your friends and family – do they support secular inclusive schools? What do they think of some of the pro faith school myths? If your children attend a faith school, speaking to fellow parents might reveal how many had little choice or would rather it had a community ethos. Speak with fellow parents today.
- Speak with influencers. Is there a celebrity whose politics you follow, does your local community leader have a lot of sway, does your neighbour run a popular community group? Why not reach out to them and see if they could support the campaign? Speak with influencers today.
- Put up a poster. We can send some campaign posters, or you can print your own and display them. Some designs have space for a personal message. Put up a poster today.
- Put out some leaflets. We can send our main leaflet, or you could print your own. Would you like some in your business, community noticeboard or information stall? Put out some leaflets soon.
- Get informed. Faith school proponents tend to rely on a few tired old arguments, but these are repeated so often that they've entered public consciousness. Our myth buster and further resources can help you respond to these common arguments and have a more productive conversation. Get informed today.
Finally, a word on donations. This campaign doesn't fundraise, but we are coordinated and supported by the National Secular Society (NSS). Joining the NSS or making a regular or one-off donation helps it support our work so we can do more events and activities. Donate today.
If you support an end to faith schools and a move towards an inclusive community education system, then please consider taking the time to help us out. Each small action really does make a difference. If you have any other ideas or suggestions for supporting the campaign, we'd love to hear them.