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Gloriavale - what exactly is being taught in school?

Controversial Christian community Gloriavale has been the subject of some negative press online and via social media in recent weeks, with several families opting to leave the community.

Liz Gordon, co-convenor of the Quality Public Education Coalition, today released information stemming from three years of research into what kind of education was taking place at the community’s Gloriavale Christian Community School. 

In a statement released today, Gordon says she has concluded that the education that takes place there “deprives young people of their human rights, supports a context that allows girls to be sexually abused and teaches young people a false curriculum – all sanctioned by the state.”

“Private schools do not have to teach the New Zealand curriculum. In the case of Gloriavale, the curriculum, according to the Education Review Office, ‘suitably meets the Gloriavale philosophy',” Gordon says in the statement. “From what we know about the community from recent and past publicity this includes teaching girls to be submissive housewives and boys to work on the farms.”

According to the Gloriavale website, education is an essential part of training the community's young people for a ‘life of service in the Christian Community’. 

According to a recent report in the New Zealand Herald,  the residents of Gloriavale use modern technology and industry for their work and businesses, however there are no reports or suggestions on the community's website what, if any, technology is used for education.

The website says the community complies with all government regulations in running early childhood centres and the private school. 

The community’s four registered early childhood centres have all passed inspections from the government Education Review Office, according to the website. 

“Deep concern about the teaching of evolution and other ungodly values led us in 1971 to start our own Christian School where the Bible is read and upheld. Our own Christian teachers set a godly example and help prepare students for Christian Community life.”

“At Gloriavale you learn science in a so-called ‘Christian’ context (God created the world in six days, and there was no evolution), girls are encouraged into the kitchens to meet their future destiny as wives and mothers and boys are trained into the trades,” Gordon explains. “The sect does not believe in education beyond the age of 15 years, and does not teach health or physical education”.

Gordon says that although taxpayers are contributing ‘a couple of hundred thousand dollars a year’ to Gloriavale School, most would be shocked by the nature of the schooling taking place there.

“There is no school. Lessons take place in community facilities, and heavily involve reproducing the misogynist values of the place,” she says. “There is no protection or rights for the young people, and especially the girls.”

However, the Gloriavale website says they are currently building a new school block that will house all its classrooms under one roof.

“Founded by convicted sex offender Neville Cooper, and run by a bunch of patriarchs, all the school has to do to maintain its registration, and get government funding, is show that it meets the standards set by its own community, not matter how unacceptable”.

Gordon says that Gloriavale, and a number of other government-funded private schools in New Zealand, are allowed to teach a ‘false and oppressive curriculum’.

“There is at least a prima facie case that the community breaches several rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights Act,” Gordon says, “especially freedom of thought, freedom from discrimination and, possibly, the right not to be subjected to torture or cruel treatment (surely to be taught from a young age to accept rape and conceal it is a form of “torture and cruel treatment”).”

Gordon says QPEC’s view is that it is ‘intolerable’ that the law mandates, and indeed funds, Gloriavale Christian Community School.

Techday has reached out to Gloriavale Christian Community School, but have yet to hear back.