DCSF publishes new Religious Education guidance

The long awaited Religious Education Guidance in English Schools 2010 has just been published by the DCSF (Dept. for Children, Schools and Families).

This replaces the so-called Circular 1/94 guidance that specifically forbade County Councils from including a Humanist representative on their Religious Education advisory body (SACRE).

The new guidance no longer prohibits Humanist membership of SACRE. Indeed, it includes a case study of a SACRE appointing a Humanist member (see p21).

Humanism is mentioned on three occasions in the new guidance.

[non-religious] belief is mentioned 57 times, and the term worldview twice. Humanism is the major non-religious belief in the UK.

The statutory duty of schools to promote community cohesion is mentioned on 21 occasions. Community cohesion is impossible if the non-religious are excluded. The non-religious comprise the second largest belief group in the UK.

The guidance strongly promotes inclusion and tailoring RE to the needs of the community (36% of which prefer Humanist explanations, and 64% of 12-19 year olds are atheists or agnostics).

There are 5 references to a broad and balanced curriculum, which can only be achieved by including non-religious beliefs.

There are numerous references to ideas such as morality (mentioned 10 times) which would benefit from a Humanist perspective.

The new guidance specifically states that it is not an authoritative interpretation of the law; that is a matter for the courts. It is inconceivable that a County Council would be prosecuted under the Eduation Act for including a Humanist representative, in view of the more recent Human Rights Act. The DCSF have gone as far as they are able under the current law. We will have to wait for a new Education Act to bring education in line with Equality Law and the Human Rights Act. No County Council has been prosecuted for including a Humanist representative.

I can think of no good reason to exclude the non-religious from being represented on SACRE by a Humanist member.


Last Updated (Friday, 12 February 2010 18:44)


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