Well-being of society demands reform of Religious Education is not ignored says Accord Coalition

December 17, 2018

The Accord Coalition has expressed its disappointment that the Government is not intending to propose legislation to reform England’s antiquated Religious Education laws. In response it has urged the Religious Education community and all those concerned about the contribution of schools to social cohesion to maintain pressure so that reform of the subject is not kicked into the long grass.

In September the two year long Commission on Religious Education released its final report. Among its recommendations were that all school pupils should be given a nationally prescribed entitlement to an education about religious and non-religious beliefs. It followed a report in July by former Education Secretary Charles Clarke and high profile academic Professor Linda Woodhead, which made a similar recommendation. However the Education Secretary has now revealed in a written response to the Commissioners that the Government is not proposing to put forward any legislation.

Chair of the Accord Coalition, the Reverend Stephen Terry, said ‘On the basis of current trends, Religious Education could soon become a fringe topic taught mainly at faith schools. The legal structures that support the subject require urgent reform.’

‘Given the remarkable breadth of support the Commission on Religious Education has obtained, it is all the more disappointing the Government has decided not to act. The Commission set out the clear need for structural reform, and it is a dereliction of duty for the Secretary of State to provide no clear commitment to make changes beyond tinkering at the edges.’

‘Mutual understanding is key to the future cohesiveness and happiness of society. If we are to safeguard the opportunity for pupils to all learn about the beliefs of people from different backgrounds then reform of Religious Education must simply be delayed, to when the country next has a Government able to implement substantive legislation.’

The Education Secretary’s letter can be found on the Religious Education Council’s website via https://www.religiouseducationcouncil.org.uk/news/government-response-to-the-commission-on-re/.

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