Don't force-feed 16-year-olds

25th August 2006 at 01:00
I was rather shocked that the chair of the RE Council of England and Wales was so dismissive about Parliament's human rights committee doing its job and pointing out where UK law and practice on collective worship and RE is incompatible with older pupils' human rights.

He seems to imply that we should force-feed older pupils RE whether they want it or not. Yet sixth-formers have had 10 years of it before being able to opt out; isn't that long enough?

For him to suggest the committee was "influenced by the National Secular Society" insults its professionalism. The National Secular Society should, instead, be congratulated on drawing this long-standing abuse to the committee's attention, which until its intervention the Department for Education and Skills had refused to address.

After all, two large-scale independent surveys show that around two-thirds of secondary pupils are not religious. It would be much more effective if much of what is taught in RE was taught from a non-religious starting point. Philosophy should also be taught, teaching pupils to think cogently for themselves. The P4C philosophy for children series is marvellous.

Dr Paul Stevenson

Retired teacherphysicist

Address supplied

Norfolk

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