Accord cautiously welcomes Church of England call to end parent’s right to withdraw their child from RE

April 27, 2017

The Church of England has called for the removal of parent’s right to withdraw their children from Religious Education (RE) lessons at state funded schools. The comment was made on Wednesday (April 26th) in a blog post published by the Church of England and authored by its lead officer on RE, Derek Holloway, who wrote:

We believe that the right of withdrawal from RE should be repealed although we would agree that it should be dependent on the development of an agreed national common statement of entitlement to RE.

Chair of the Accord Coalition, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, said ‘Learning about religious and non-religious beliefs of those from different backgrounds is not a threat to people’s beliefs. Instead, by boosting mutual understanding, it helps to create a society where religious difference is better accepted.

‘There are significant implications from withdrawing parent’s right to withdraw their child from RE. The subject will need to move to a broad, balanced  and non-instructional model. But this would be a wholly positive move. High quality RE offers children and young people an important path to good citizenship. Pupils should have an entitlement to such an education that others cannot take away.

‘The Church’s concern to advance the interests of individual pupils in this way is to be welcomed. We hope it can now prove it will be a consistent ally in ensuring the curriculum at all state funded schools places the needs of individual pupils ahead of narrow or misguided denominational interests.’

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Notes
A national consensus around what RE should include was forged in 2013 when the Religious Education Council of England and Wales published a subject framework for the teaching of RE in schools, with the support of England and Wale’s main RE professional organisations and religion and belief groups.

A 2009 poll YouGov poll commissioned by Accord found that 75% of people agreed with the statement that ‘all state funded schools should teach an objective and balanced syllabus for education about a wide range of religious and non-religious beliefs’, compared to only 8% disagreeing

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