The Department for Education (DfE) has issued a new guidance note following a recent case where the High Court found that certain parts of current government guidance about religious education was unlawful.
The guidance emphasises that the court ruled against the DfE on a 'narrow, technical point' and that this should not affect how schools deliver religious education. It goes on to reiterate that the judgment does not impact on the Government's religious education or religious studies GCSE policies, whether the school has a religious character or not.
The guidance goes on to re-state the Government's policy as follows:
- Schools and Agreed Syllabus Conferences (ASCs) should be free to decide their own approach to the delivery of religious education in schools and the choice of the appropriate GCSE course.
- Curriculums should be determined locally and do not need to reflect the make-up of the national or local population.
- A range of factors can be considered to determine the religious education curriculum, including its intellectual rigour and its impact on the development of the children.
- Schools and ASCs have no obligation to give equal teaching time to religious and non-religious views.
- There is no obligation to cover particular topics in particular key stages; curriculum balance can be achieved across all key stages.
- For schools without a religious character, the curriculum should reflect the fact that Great Britain mainly has a religious tradition of Christianity whilst taking into account the teaching and practices of other principal religions across the country.