Children’s Commissioner: ‘Good RE teaching cornerstone to national life’

Access to “great RE provision” enriches the lives of students, the Children’s Commissioner for England has said.

Speaking to the Religious Education Council (REC), Dame Rachel de Souza said RE equips children and young people to play their part in “creating a modern and tolerant Britain”.

The law in England and Wales requires that the main content of religious education in state-funded schools without a specific religious designation must be broadly Christian.

“Every agreed syllabus shall 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.”
Education Act 1996


Dame Rachel told delegates at the REC’s 50th anniversary celebration: “As a former RE teacher myself, I know first-hand how enriching the subject can be for children and young people.”

She added: “crucially, RE is a place where these young people can discuss important and exciting philosophical, religious and moral conundrums in safe spaces”.

The subject, she explained, teaches children and young people “important life skills”, such as “debate, listening skills, and how to speak passionately on a variety of topics”.

Parental backing

A recent survey conducted by Savanta ComRes of 2,000 parents with children of school age revealed that two thirds believe RE is an important part of their child’s education.

The survey found that 67 per cent of UK parents say “what their child learns in RE lessons is important”, with just 15 per cent saying “they didn’t see any value in teaching religious education”.

Based on qualitative responses, the report said that parents who saw RE as important “praised its ability to teach values of respect and acceptance” and “positively impact the morality and values of children”.

In November, the Government reiterated that “all mainstream, state-funded schools are required to teach RE. Schools that are not teaching RE are acting unlawfully or are in breach of their funding agreement”.

Also see:

School class

Schools Minister: ‘Children should not be taught politically contested views as fact’

Govt blocks attempt to include atheism in RE

Government given poor report in RE

Related Resources