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Guidelines for RE weak, says think-tank

Traditional religious and moral education is being undermined by weak guidelines from the Office for Standards in Education, a right-wing think-tank has warned, writes James Montgomery.

The Campaign for Real Education says divisions between traditionalists and progressives, and between believers and non-believers, in Britain's increasingly secular society are now so wide that they cannot be reconciled within the national curriculum.

In a misguided attempt to fudge the issue, OFSTED's criteria are ambiguous, and shot through with relativism, the authors claim. Amid the confusion, "progressives have seized the initiative". They argue that multi-faith schools and the emphasis on values clarification - allowing children to make their own choices rather than learn a set of received values or beliefs - is "a disease which is undermining the possibility of moral education".

The report calls on OFSTED to clarify what kind of religion education is being practised at individual schools: how much time is spent studying the Bible, and whether a particular god is worshipped.

Parents should be "encouraged to make use of the alternative provisions the law allows for both religion education and worship", and send their children to an institution that bases its educational programme on values they share.

Spiritual Development and All That Jazz, by Anthony Flew and Fred Naylor, Pounds 4, from the Campaign for Real Education, 18 Westlands Grove, Stockton Lane, York YO3 0EF.

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