22 February 2006
Joint statement from the Department for Education and Skills and faith communities on the importance of religious education:
In October 2004 the Department for Education and Skills published the first non-statutory National Framework for Religious Education. This inclusive statement of the aims, purposes and nature of religious education in schools in England was agreed by all major faith communities and professional associations in religious education. It is now being embedded in local syllabuses and school programmes around the country.
The Framework identified important principles for religious education. We believe that religious education develop pupils' knowledge and understanding of Christianity, other principal religions, other religious traditions and other world views. It offers opportunities for personal reflection and spiritual development. It:
- provokes challenging questions about the ultimate meaning and purpose of life, beliefs about God, the self, the nature of reality, issues of right and wrong and what it means to be human.
- enhances pupils’ awareness of religions and beliefs, teachings, practices and forms of expression, as well as of the influence of religion on individuals, families, communities and cultures.
- encourages pupils to learn from different religions, beliefs, values and traditions, while exploring their own beliefs and questions of meaning.
- challenges pupils to reflect on, consider, analyse, interpret and evaluate issues of truth, belief, faith and ethics and to communicate their response.
- encourages pupils to develop their sense of identity and belonging. It enables them to flourish individually within their communities and as citizens in a pluralistic society and global community.
- has an important role in preparing pupils for adult life, employment and life-long learning.
- enables pupils to develop respect for and sensitivity to others, in particular those whose faith and beliefs are different from their own. It promotes discernment and enables pupils to combat prejudice.
Together with the Department for Education and Skills, we endorse these principles as fundamentally important for all children and young people, for communities, and for the well-being of society.
We believe that schools with a religious designation should teach not only their own faith but also an awareness of the tenets of other faiths. We are fully committed to using the Framework in developing the religious education curriculum for our schools and colleges.
Catholic Church Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor
Church of England Rt Revd Kenneth Stevenson, Bishop of Portsmouth
Board of Deputies of British Jews Jon Benjamin
Buddhist Society Munisha
Free Churches Association Sarah Lane
Hindu Council of UK Anil Bhanot
Methodist Church Kathleen Wood
Muslim Council of Britain Sir Iqbal Sacranie
Network of Sikh Organisations Indarjit Singh OBE