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Peers call for equal inclusion of humanism in RE curriculum

Humanists UK has welcomed peers’ support for the study of humanism to be included in the religious education (RE) curriculum in England to an equal extent to the major world religions, with several peers pushing for the UK Government to adopt the findings of the Commission on RE’s recently published Religion and Worldviews: the way forward report.

At a debate in the House of Lords on Monday, the report, which was published in September, was backed by Lord Watson of Invergowrie, Labour’s Shadow Education Minister, the Lord Bishop of Chichester, and two members of the All Party Parliamentary Humanist Group, Baroness Bakewell (Labour) and Lord Taverne (Liberal Democrat), among other peers.

The Commission on RE report, which recommended that pupils study non-religious worldviews including humanism as part of the RE curriculum, has been touted as potentially the most significant change to religious education in 50 years.

Humanists UK briefed peers ahead of the debate, highlighting that 52% of the British population which now identifies as having no religion (a figure rising to 70% amongst those aged 18-24) and that teaching about humanism can only enhance the subject.

The debate came days after the Secretary of State for Education Damian Hinds said he had been approached by stakeholders who were concerned that ‘making statutory the inclusion of “worldviews” risked diluting the teaching of RE’.

Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson said: ‘It is crucial that the Government takes forward the recommendations of the report and isn’t unduly influenced by some religious groups that oppose an open, pluralistic, and critical approach to the school curriculum. There is a risk here that the Government could ignore the findings of the report which would be a massive step back in bringing much awaited reform to the RE curriculum.’

‘The law is already clear that humanism must be included in the curriculum on an equal basis to the major religions – this was the conclusion of a 2015 judicial review on the matter – so any attempts to ignore this will be greatly challenged.’

Notes

For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK press manager Casey-Ann Seaniger at casey@humanism.org.uk  or phone 020 7324 3078 or 07 393344293.

Read our previous news item on the RE curriculum here: https://humanism.org.uk/2018/12/16/secretary-of-state-for-education-rejects-calls-for-legal-reform-to-re/

Read the report: https://www.commissiononre.org.uk/final-report-religion-and-worldviews-the-way-forward-a-national-plan-for-re/

Read more about Humanists UK’s campaigns work around religious education: https://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/schools-and-education/school-curriculum/religious-education/

At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.

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