Religious Education ‘essential’ for children say teachers

Teachers have hit out at schools which fail to provide religious education.

The National Association of Teachers of Religious Education (NATRE) and others say that “too many teenagers are being deprived of vital knowledge about different faiths and beliefs”.

Meanwhile, former Education Secretary Charles Clarke has launched a fresh call to water down Christian teaching in the curriculum in a report on religion and belief in schools.

Overturned

NATRE had complained to the headmaster of a state school in the south of England over its failure to provide RE lessons.

The group’s complaints were ignored, and so they wrote to the Education Secretary last year.

A spokesman for NATRE said that the Department for Education ruled that the school needed to comply with its duty to provide RE lessons, and the school now offers GCSE Religious Studies.

‘Vital’

The organisation has subsequently turned its attention towards academy schools, where religious education is not provided in more than 40 per cent of schools where there is no religious character.

In a letter to The Times, 15 prominent campaigners, including the chairman of NATRE, said the lack of religious teaching in schools “represents a crisis”, because the subject is “essential for all pupils”.

They added: “It is vital that the government takes action to ensure that all pupils are able to have the education about religion and belief that they are legally entitled to.”

Daily worship

Clarke’s report calls for a nationally-agreed curriculum which drops the current requirement for a daily act of Christian worship.

The proposed curriculum would have no parental opt-out and be renamed “Religion, Beliefs and Values”.

The report claims that most people in Britain say they have no religion, and that roughly equal numbers of young people have no religion as do.

However, religious leaders say such claims are unreliable.

Strong case

In a letter to The Telegraph, Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali and others said the 2011 census shows that 67.1 per cent of the population declared some kind of religious affiliation, while only 25.7 per cent said they had no religion.

They concluded that “the case for maintaining the current legal arrangements for the teaching of Religious Education remains strong”.

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