Latest News

Church criticises proposal to end religious instruction in UK schools

Former Home Secretary Charles Clarke (PA)

The Catholic Education Service (CES) has said that religious instruction must remain part of Catholic education following a landmark report calling for its removal in schools.

The criticism from the CES, an arm of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, came in a report by Charles Clarke, the former education secretary, and Prof Linda Woodhead of Lancaster University.

The report, entitled A New Settlement: Religion and Belief in Schools, stated that religious instruction should be the “responsibility of religious communities and families”.

It said that while religious education should be provided, religious instruction was a “separate” thing, better suited to families, Sunday schools and madrasses.

The report said: “It should take place outside the school day, and should only take place on the premises of schools if those schools also properly provide the pupils involved with religious education on the basis of the legally required RE syllabus.”

But Paul Barber, director of the CES, said all Catholic schools had to instruct their pupils in the teachings of the Catholic faith.

He said: “Religious education is at the core of the curriculum in a Catholic school and must make up at least 10 per cent of the curriculum. All Catholic schools must present an authentic vision of the Church’s moral and social teaching and instruct pupils in the teachings of the Catholic faith.

“This encourages deeper religious and theological understanding and enables pupils to relate their own faith to daily life.”