Prejudice has no place in religious education

21st September 2001 at 01:00
It's a shame that the unnamed headteacher whose comments about religious assemblies and religious and moral education (RME)) were quoted in your "Faith in the future" article (TESS, September 7) lacked the courage to be identified. It's only by open and honest debate that this issue can be resolved.

As a principal teacher of RME in a non-denominational school, I am in complete agreement with the view expressed by this anonymous individual that religious assemblies have no place in non-denominational schools. However, he or she seems to be ignorant of the rationale behind RME in the non-denominational school, which is very different from the rationale for the "broadly Christian" school assembly (whatever that might be).

The purpose of RME is to educate, not to inculcate particular viewpoints or to lead students to a profession of faith. Our mystery head may or may not be correct in his or her assertion that the idea that there is a life after death is "all nonsense". I am unable to comment on that with such authority.

However, students in an RME class would be encouraged to explore issues such as this from a variety of perspectives, including that of secular humanism; they would not be presented with aspects of religious belief as if they were established fact.

RME is a subject intended to open closed minds.

In schools where it is supported by senior management, RME can thrive and fulfil its educational function. But such ill-informed and prejudiced attitudes in a school's senior management will militate against it doing so.

The headteacher concerned might want to take a closer look at the 5-14 documents on RME and the Higher Still arrangements documents to gain a greater understanding of the subject.

Keith Wilson

27 The Steils



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