The British Humanist Association (BHA) has submitted responses to a number of consultations on Religious Education (RE), wider curriculum reform and school organisation. In its responses, the BHA has argued that RE needs to be inclusive of non-religious people, as well as arguing in favour of stronger teaching and national curriculum requirements for RE, Citizenship and Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education.
Responses submitted by the BHA over the last fortnight include:
- The consultation on the RE Council RE Subject Review’s expert panel’s draft phase one report. The BHA argued that the review must be fully inclusive of non-religious beliefs, as indeed must RE curricula.
- The Department for Education’s consultation on reforming Key Stage 4 qualifications. The consultation focusses on proposals to replace GCSEs with English Baccalaureate Certificates (EBCs), initially only in certain core subjects. In its response, the BHA commented that ‘We would be concerned if the changes being proposed result in insufficient time given [to RE, PSHE, citizenship or science]. As things stand, we think that more time needs to be given to PSHE and citizenship education; the nature of religious education needs reforming [i.e. placement on the national curriculum]; while science needs its current position maintained.’
- The call for evidence in the APPG inquiry on teachers of RE. In its response, the BHA again argued for stronger national direction on RE, and made wider comments about what constitutes good teaching in the subject.
Over the past year, the BHA has also been involved in a number of consultation exercises run by the Labour Party. The BHA attended the launch and closing events of their review of the school curriculum, responded to their two consultation questionnaires, and met with Shadow Schools Minister Kevin Brennan to discuss matters further.
The BHA also responded to their consultation on the ‘middle tier’, i.e. what (if anything) should sit between schools and central Government (a role filled by local authorities, prior to Academisation). The BHA expressed concern about the school organisation system being biased in favour of religious proposals for new schools, and biased against other schools for school closures. The BHA also highlighted the Church of England’s ambitious expansion plans, in light of the opportunities presented to it by the Academies programme.
BHA Education Campaigner Richy Thompson commented, ‘This past month and year, we have been busy playing an active part in the ongoing debate over school organisation and the curriculum. We have been working to ensure that secularist and non-religious perspectives are heard, by the Government, the Labour Party and the RE community. Looking ahead to 2013, we will continue to campaign for reform of the education system, in order to improve the curriculum and ensure that schools are inclusive of all pupils, regardless of religion and belief.’
For further comment or information, please contact Richy Thompson on 020 7462 4993.
Read the BHA’s response to the consultation on:
- Reforming Key Stage 4 Qualifications: http://humanism.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Reforming-Key-Stage-4-Qualifications-response-from-the-British-Humanist-Association.pdf
- Supply and Support for Religious Education Teachers: http://humanism.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/APPG-on-RE-Call-for-Evidence-on-the-Supply-and-Support-for-Religious-Education-Teachers-Response-from-the-British-Humanist-Association.pdf
- Labour policy review – school curriculum – first response: http://humanism.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Labour-policy-review-school-curriculum-BHA-response-to-initial-questionaire.pdf
- Labour policy review – school curriculum – second questionnaire: http://humanism.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Labour-consultation-Issues-to-explore-re-the-Curriculum-–-response-from-the-British-Humanist-Association.pdf
- Labour ‘middle tier’ consultation, Devolving Power in Education: School Freedom and Accountability: http://humanism.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/BHA-Response-to-Devolving-Power-in-Education-School-Freedom-and-Accountability.pdf
Read more about the BHA’s campaigns work on ‘faith’ schools: https://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/religion-and-schools/faith-schools
Read more about the BHA’s campaigns work on religious education: http://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/religion-and-schools/religious-education/
View the BHA’s table of types of school with a religious character: https://humanism.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/schools-with-a-religious-character.pdf
The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.