Board of Deputies voices concern over new religious education report

Report calls for abolition of requirements for collective school worship


The Board of Deputies has expressed concern about a new report calling for the abolition of compulsory school worship and for a new national curriculum on “religious and moral education” which the government should consider applying to all schools.

Vice-president Edwin Shuker said the board was concerned about the “overall hostility to faith schools” in the report, which was produced for Westminster Faith Debates by a leading academic expert on religion, Professor Linda Woodhead of Lancaster University, and former Education Secretary Charles Clarke.

Religious instruction - as opposed to education - should not take place during the school day, even in faith schools, the authors argue.

They recommend the government consider extending a nationally agreed syllabus on religious and moral education to faith schools - which traditionally have enjoyed autonomy on their religious education - and independent schools.

They also believe the current right of parents to withdraw children from religious education should be abolished if a new national syllabus were introduced.

But Mr Shuker said: “The report depicts faith schools as part of the problem rather than as part of the solution to the challenge of achieving community cohesion.

“Giving children a strong grounding in their faith tradition does not imply any contradiction with integration and indeed gives young people a proper understanding of their faith that gives a strong sense of self and builds a resilience to extremist opinions.”

The Board disagreed with the idea that the state “should dictate the religious studies components taught by faith schools,” he said.

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