Statement at the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Religious Education

Feb 13, 2019 by

from Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali:

I Welcome the sustained work done by the REC’s Commission on Religious Education in Schools. In particular, we can welcome the suggestion that there should be an entitlement to religious education for pupils in all schools. Given an increasingly religious world, it is vital for children to be aware of religions, their teachings and practices and what impact these have both on their adherents and on others in society.The content of such an entitlement, however, should take seriously how religions are actually practised, as well as local diversity in such practice, rather than relying on abstractions. Any provision must be child – centred and must take account of how religious belief and practice can contribute to a child’s spiritual, moral, cultural and intellectual development.

We can welcome also the emphasis on the provision of resources both at the initial training stage for teachers and for their continuing professional development.This is especially appropriate because the last Ofsted subject review found standards in this subject to be less than good in half of the schools inspected.This must be set right if children are to be equipped for life in today’s and tomorrow’s world.

We note that the ‘ independent’ commission was appointed by the REC’s Council without consultation, I understand, with the membership of the REC and neither the REC nor its Commission have any official status.Nevertheless, because of its membership and the extent of its work, the Commission’s report needs to be taken seriously.

In spite of this, I welcome the government’s decision not to make any legislative changes as a result of the report.It is important that the consensus around the 1944, 88 and 93 Acts regarding religious education and collective worship should remain determinative for legislation and policy. This means that, given our history, Christianity should continue to receive special attention but that other world faiths should also be studied in ways appropriate to the contexts in which schools find themselves today.

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