Accord Coalition echo Richard Dawkins’ call for Religious Education to become a National Curriculum subject

August 18, 2010

The Accord Coalition has enthusiastically backed the proposal put forward by Professor Richard Dawkins in his More 4 documentary ‘Faith Schools Menace?’ that Religious Education should become a National Curriculum subject.

Religious Education is currently in the anomalous position of being the only compulsory subject in state maintained schools that is not part of the National Curriculum. Most schools follow a locally agreed syllabus, which is produced by their local authority responsible for education. Earlier this year Ofsted released its report Transforming religious education, which found that the teaching of RE was inadequate in 1/5 of secondary schools in England and urged the Government to reconsider the subject’s current local arrangements.

Meanwhile, in faith schools the RE syllabus taught is determined by the school itself. The RE in these schools is not inspected by the government and can be overtly instructional and not expose pupils to other world views than that of the school.

Chair of Accord Coalition, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, said ‘the current arrangements for RE are very worrying. In faith schools the RE taught can be very narrow in its scope, while in other schools the quality of RE can also be of a poor quality, which only helps prevent children from developing their understanding of people with different beliefs.

‘The Government must reassess the current arrangements of RE as part of their curriculum review taking place this autumn. A flexible National Curriculum RE syllabus would have many advantages. Firstly, it could help ensure that the RE taught in schools is broad and balanced and of a sufficient quality, helping to ensure that children are better prepared for life in our increasingly diverse society. Secondly, the current local arrangements for RE are very bureaucratic and expensive and by bringing them to an end the Government will save local authorities around the county many hundreds of thousands of pounds a year at a time when they are under extreme budgetary pressures.’

Notes

The Accord Coalition was launched in September 2008 to bring together religious and non religious organisations campaigning for an end to religious discrimination in school staffing and admissions. The coalition also campaigns for a fair and balanced RE curriculum, for pupils to receive Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education, the removal of the requirement for compulsory collective worship, but does not take a position for or against faith schools in principle. Its growing list of members and supporters include the British Humanist Association, the Christian think tank Ekklesia, the British Muslims for Secular Democracy, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers and members from all three of the largest parties in parliament.

For further comment, contact Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain on 07770 722 893.

For further information, contact Paul Pettinger on 020 7462 4990.

2 Responses to Accord Coalition echo Richard Dawkins’ call for Religious Education to become a National Curriculum subject

  1. CW Alex Downey on September 11, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    Interesting! It might be sensible to have a single, compulsory GCSE subject,called something like “Philosophy and Comparative Religion”. Social cohesion might be improved if people understood what other people *really* believe instead of the distortions of rumour. One might like to banish religiously-backed schools from the state sector, but that might liberate them further from the restraining hand of the state. What would they then teach as truth (as opposed to a text to be debated).

    Faith-based schools, I fear, are here to stay. If they were driven out of the state sector, then they might be expected to persist in the commercial and charitable/not-for-profit sectors.

  2. Tim on February 24, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    Fully agree with comment above, especially about philosophy being taught. I am a primary school teacher and just filled in Michael Gove’s online consultation questionnaire about the new National Curriculum. There wasn’t even a question about Religious Education. Timind and cowardly.

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