Religious Education at risk of being marginalised, say MPs
An all-party parliamentary group of MPs has been formed to ensure that Religious Education continues to be taught as a priority in school following concerns over its exclusion from the Government’s list of “core” subjects contained in the new English Baccalaureate, reports Christian Concern for our Nation.
The English Baccalaureate is awarded to pupils who have secured 5 GCSE’s with grades C or above in a range of key academic subjects, listed as English, mathematics, history/geography, the sciences and a language.
But the omission of Religious Education has frustrated campaigners who believe that it will lead to the marginalisation of the subject. A new poll revealed that 30% of schools had reduced their time slots for the subject since the Baccalaureate was introduced in 2010.
New all-party group
The new parliamentary group will be chaired by the Liberal Democrat MP for Eastbourne and Willington, Stephen Lloyd, who’s Early Day Motion asking for the inclusion of RE in the Baccalaureate received 115 signatures last year.
Mr Lloyd is hoping that the group will “be able to provide real insight into the value of RE”, since the subject was important in helping school leavers to accurately grasp “the importance and relevance of religion.”
The group has received backing from RE teaching associations and leading religious groups.
John Keast, chair of The Religious Education Council of England and Wales, said:
"Recently the RE community has felt under fire and this represents an important step to give the subject a strong profile amongst parliamentarians.
"The coalition government is making policy decisions about academies, the national curriculum, qualifications and even teacher training provision.
"Directly or indirectly, all these will challenge how RE is taught to young people", he added.
The spokeswoman at the Department for Education said: "RE remains a statutory part of the school curriculum for every student up to 18. It is rightly down to schools themselves to judge how it is taught."
"We have been clear that pupils should take the GCSEs that are right for them and that we look to teachers and parents to help pupils make the right choice."
The news comes during a strong public debate about the role of religion in society.
Last week, a High Court judge ruled that it was unlawful for local councils to include Christian prayers in their formal meetings after a legal challenge by an atheist former councillor who objected.
Cabinet Minister, Baroness Warsi, warned that Britain was facing a rising tide of “militant secularisation” in light of the increased marginalisation of religion in public life.