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Religious education needs overhaul to ‘reflect UK’, says report

Jul 17, 2018 by

Ex-education secretary says assemblies, syllabus and admissions policy need change

Religious education in schools is outdated and should be replaced with a new subject: religion, belief and values, and the right of parents to withdraw their children from classes should be scrapped, according to the former Labour education secretary Charles Clarke.

Significant shifts in the UK since the 1944 Education Act mean changes to the way religion and belief is taught in schools to reflect modern Britain are long overdue, Clarke and his co-author Linda Woodhead, a professor in the department of politics, philosophy and religion at Lancaster University, argue in a pamphlet published on Tuesday.

In the 1940s, Britain was a predominantly Christian country. Now a majority of people say they have no religion, and there are parts of the country where people of other religions form a significant proportion of the population.

A new nationally-determined syllabus called religion, belief and values should replace religious education and be required in all state-funded schools. At the moment, each education authority sets its own RE syllabus.

Faith schools could provide additional teaching if desired. Parents should no longer have the right to withdraw children from the syllabus. “Religion, belief and values should be a proper educational subject like any other,” Clarke told the Guardian.

Daily collective worship of “a broadly Christian character”, which is a legal requirement under the 1944 act, should be replaced with a requirement for all state-funded schools to hold a “regular assembly or act of collective worship in keeping with the values and ethos of the school and reflecting the diversity and character of the school community”, the pamphlet argues.

Source: Religious education needs overhaul to ‘reflect UK’, says report | Politics | The Guardian

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