Letters - 16 June 2017

From equality and education to a good spirit

Equality and education

It is now exactly twenty years ago that I, as clerk of the school committee, was involved in the closure of Great Ayton Friends’ School.

I am deeply distressed and concerned to see a repetition of the comments that were made then (9 June), at the precise moment that Walden pupils are seeking new schools, teachers are seeking new jobs while their applications are being tainted by being from a ‘failed’ school, catering and ground staff and all others are being made redundant, and local suppliers are facing problems.

I, a mere attender, found myself alone, defending ‘Quakers’ in the media and on the street, over what many involved saw as a tragedy while some Quakers publicly questioned the value of private education.

Equality demands that those involved in Walden School are treated with respect and compassion at what is a traumatic time for them all.

This is not a time for discussion on the future of Friends’ schools and such discussions should cease until matters at Walden are settled.

Friends need to look to their own responsibility as individuals and as a Society, particularly in the management of Quaker schools like Ayton.

Friends should understand that since Ayton’s closure, the number of children in ‘private’ education in this area has rocketed. Ayton is no longer a safe haven for those who fail in these hothouses, or a choice for others attracted to the Quaker ethos.

I hope that our testimony to equality covers much more in life than mere finance, as I am aware of many children from well-off families who are deeply deprived.

Robert Campbell

Words and Woodbrooke

The article by Antony Barlow (9 June) certainly resonated with me.

I received a leaflet on Sunday at Meeting for Worship detailing courses at the Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre, with its new logo – which to me is meaningless – and noticed that at no time were Quakers mentioned. What is happening?

Quakers are already under the radar for most people in this country and we are rarely mentioned in the media. Where are we? Are we afraid of saying who we are? George Fox and early Quakers must be turning in their graves.

Certainly, I am seriously questioning continuing my small monthly contribution to Woodbrooke and yet I know from experience that their online courses are superb and I enjoy the online Meetings for Worship. Plus, of course, the wonderful building and residential courses.

We need to shout more about who we are and what we stand for.

Jo Fisher

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