True marriage of church and state;Letter

16th July 1999 at 01:00
I WAS surprised by the churches' suggestion that ministers are "neglecting pupils' spiritual and moral education" in the new national curriculum (TES, July 2).

The fact is that the new curriculum retains the position of religious education, while introducing much clearer programmes for both personal, social and health education and citizenship which will enhance teaching in these areas. We have resisted pressure to drop the requirement for assembly in schools.

There has certainly been no intention to exclude the churches from development of the new curriculum and a senior figure from the church has been a member of the PSHE advisory group.

As would have been clear from the group's report, Education Secretary David Blunkett sees marriage as an important part of PSHE. There are specific references in the draft framework to "value family life" and "good parenting (and) its value to family life" as well as those cited by the churches.

Our proposals on citizenship recognise "ways in which behaviour affects others", "that family and friends care for each other", promoting "moral development". They emphasise duties and responsibilities as well as rights.

We are promoting volunteering through Millennium Volunteers and no government could do more to promote the importance of parents' involvement and responsibility in education.

Charles Clarke

Schools minister Department for Education and Employment Sanctuary Buildings Great Smith Street, London SW1

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