School told atheism does not need ‘equal air time’

Dec 28, 2015 by

Schools in England do not need to give non-religious views “equal air time” and should still teach that the UK is principally a Christian country, guidelines say.

Schools in England do not need to give non-religious views “equal air time” and should continue to teach pupils that the UK is a principally Christian country, new education guidelines say.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan issued the advice a month after the High Court ruled that the new religious studies GCSE wrongfully excluded atheism.

Humanist groups said the legal verdict had “implications” for the curriculum.

But Mrs Morgan said schools had the “freedom” to make their own decision.

After the High Court found against the government, ministers dropped plans to take the issue to the Court of Appeal.

But the new guidance issued by the Department for Education in England clarified that there would be no need to give non-religious beliefs “equal air time” in lessons, saying the court defeat had been on a “narrow, technical point”.

‘No impact’

Mrs Morgan said: “This government is determined to protect schools’ freedom to set their own religious studies curriculum, in line with the wishes of parents and the local community.

“The guidance I have issued makes absolutely clear that the recent judicial review will have no impact on what is currently being taught in religious education.

“I am clear that both faith and non-faith schools are completely entitled to prioritise the teaching of religion and faith over non-religious world views if they wish.”

The guidelines added that non-faith schools should “reflect the fact that the religious traditions in Great Britain are, in the main, Christian whilst taking account of the teaching and practices of the other principal religions represented in Great Britain”.

British Humanist Association chief executive Andrew Copson said the High Court ruling had implications for the school curriculum at all ages and “further guidance is urgently needed to bring practice into line with the law”.

Rev Nigel Genders, chief education officer for the Church of England, said he welcomed the publication of the guidance which “provides assurance that the judgement does not impact on the content of the new GCSE”.

The new course is be introduced from September next year.

Source: School told atheism does not need ‘equal air time’ – BBC News

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