RE:let pupils, not parents, choose

21st September 2001 at 01:00
We are intrigued that Canon John Hall, general secretary of the Church of England board of education, is keen to ensure that "the place of religious education and spiritual development is not eroded" in the newly flexible 14-19 curriculum (Talking Point, TES, September 7).

Anglican confirmation applicants are generally younger than 14, and Catholic applicants younger still. But the ritual can only have any meaning if those being confirmed are old enough both to understand what they are confirming and to make a reasoned decision.

We will therefore be pressing the Department for Education and Skills to give pupils themselves, rather than parents acting on their behalf, the right to decide to opt out of RE and collective worship. We will also be suggesting that, during the time they are withdrawn, they engage in some worthwhile activity.

Keith Porteous Wood Executive director National Secular Society 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1

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