Religious groups call for national curriculum

20th July 2007 at 01:00
Religious groups are demanding a national curriculum in RE because they believe the quality of lessons is poor in too many schools. Sikh, Hindu and Baha'is faith groups, plus the British Humanist Association, have signed a letter calling for a standardised curriculum to be introduced as a matter of urgency.

Their call backs the position of the Church of England, which wants a uniform approach to the subject. Ofsted recently said the Government should consider a national curriculum.

A letter to The TES from the Hindu Council UK, the Network of Sikh Organisations, the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is and the BHA said: "We are very concerned that all young people should have the opportunity to experience good RE lessons in their schools.

"Unfortunately, as the Ofsted report on RE has again demonstrated, the provision of RE is variable across the country, and we believe that this situation requires urgent attention.

"We urge the Government to take seriously the proposal that RE be given a national curriculum of its own. Such a move will give us all the ability to measure standards and attainment in this important subject."

Each local authority decides its own syllabus every five years and appoints a board to monitor the quality of lessons. A recent five-year study by inspectors found that to be inconsistent: too many were poor. It said children should be taught more about the role of religion in the modern world in a bid to build community cohesion.

A voluntary national framework was introduced three years ago to help standardise the curriculum, but doubts have been raised about how widely it has been implemented.

The idea behind locally agreed syllabuses is to reflect specific community needs. However, representatives from smaller religious and secular groups say this can lead to them being squeezed out of the curriculum.

Lord Adonis, the schools minister, said the Government was working on new ways to improve the quality of RE. "We are determined to continue to drive up standards and the analysis from Ofsted will help us do this," he said.

"Building on 2004's national framework, we are working closely with the RE community to agree a new strategy for driving up standards across the country."

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