Schools must teach pupils that Britain is a Christian country
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, above, has expressed concerns that secular organisations are using the courts to gain influence in British schools which may eventually be forced to put faith and non-belief on an equal footing.
According to this report, Morgan:
Has had enough of campaign groups using the courts to try and force the teaching of atheism and humanism to kids against parent’s wishes.
So she has today published new guidance to non-faith schools which makes clear that they do not need to give “equal parity” to non-religious views; that they are obliged to teach pupils that Britain is a Christian country and are entitled to prioritise the views of established religions over atheism.
The guidance says that religious education should:
Reflect the fact that the religious traditions in Great Britain are, in the main Christian.
It also states that there is “no obligation for any school to give equal air time to the teaching of religious and non-religious views” or even cover atheism during GCSE religious studies lessons.
It comes after humanists won a landmark High Court victory which found that the Education Secretary had unlawfully excluded atheism from the school curriculum.
Morgan is concerned that humanists are using the courts as part of a “creeping ratchet effect” which will ultimately see primary schools forced to teach children about atheism.
However, the guidance suggests that non-religious views can be taught in other lessons, a decision described as “significant” by the British Humanist Association (BHA).
It comes after a major inquiry into the place of religion in modern society concluded that Britain is no longer a Christian country and should stop acting as if it is.
The two-year commission, chaired by the former senior judge Baroness Butler-Sloss and involving leading religious leaders from all faiths, called for public life in Britain to be systematically de-Christianised.
But a defiant Morgan said:
The Government is determined to protect schools’ freedom to set their own religious studies curriculum, in line with the wishes of parents and the local community. The guidance I have issued today makes absolutely clear that the recent judicial review will have no impact on what is currently being taught in religious education.
I am clear that both faith and non-faith schools are completely entitled to prioritise the teaching of religion and faith over non-religious views if they wish.
A source close to Morgan said that she has it up here with groups like the BHA.
That’s why she’s taking a stand to protect the right of schools to prioritise the teaching of Christianity and other major religions.
Revd Nigel Genders, Chief Education Officer for the Church of England said:
There has been confusion about the implications of the High Court judgment [with respect to the GCSE religious studies subject content] and we welcome the publication of this guidance note which clarifies the situation and provides assurance that the judgement does not impact on the content of the new RS GCSE.
Sheila Gewolb, Vice President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said:
The Board of Deputies of British Jews welcomes the Department for Education’s guidance, which supports the Religious Studies GCSE as it stands.
The Board believes that the RS GCSE must continue to support education about the traditional world religions. Other beliefs and world views can – and should – be taught through other subject areas.
A spokesman for the British Humanist Association said:
We welcome the Department for Education acceptance that schools need to teach not just about religions as part of RS but also about non-religious worldviews such as humanism but we fear, as a result of the Secretary of State’s original error, that many schools will continue to assume that delivering the GCSE will meet their legal obligations.
We look forward to working with the Department, as with schools and other bodies setting curricula, to find a way to make their obligations clearer to all schools, in the interests of a broad and balanced curriculum.