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New Commission on RE report features lecturer’s recommendations

Recommendations made by Senior Lecturer in Education Dr David Lundie have been incorporated into a new national plan for religious education (RE) released by the Commission on RE.

Religion and Worldviews: The Way Forward brings together a new vision and strategy for RE, which aims to ensure ‘learning in this area remains academically rigorous and a knowledge-rich preparation for life in a world of great religion and belief diversity’.

Dr Lundie’s Religious Education and the Right of Withdrawal report highlighted several key findings from a survey that captured the experience and understanding of school leaders across England. The survey found:

  • 38 per cent of schools had experienced parents asking to withdraw their children selectively from the teaching of one religion. Often this was reported as stemming from racist, Islamophobic or intolerant motives.
  • 66 per cent of school leaders believe there is no longer a need for a parental right to withdraw children from RE.

As a result of the findings, Dr Lundie’s report suggested the Department for Education need to clarify the law on: (i.) The right of parents to withdraw selectively from part (but not all) of RE (ii.) Whether parents seeking to withdraw their children from RE are responsible for providing an appropriate alternative curriculum (iii.) Whether children withdrawn from RE can access other curriculum subjects or SEN support during RE time.

While the Commission’s Religion and Worldviews: The Way Forward report stops short of recommending abolishing the right to withdraw, it does include Dr Lundie’s three recommendations in full.

Presenting at the University of Manchester earlier this week, Dr Lundie said: "While multi-faith religious education does promote a civic value of mutual respect and tolerance for other faiths, it no longer promotes any particular religious beliefs, so there is no longer any reason for this exceptional status where parents can opt out of RE, unlike any other area of the curriculum."

Published on 17/09/2018