Ban parents from pulling children out of religious education classes: Church of England

Says parents are preventing children from learning about Islam and other faiths

News Desk April 28, 2017

The Church of England has warned parents from pulling their children out of religious education classes saying they are preventing them from learning about Islam and other faiths.

Derek Holloway, the Church's lead of religious education (RE) policy, says those with 'fundamentalist' religious beliefs continue to 'exploit' laws which hand them the right to withdraw their children from RE lessons to stop them from learning about the Islamic faith.

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Holloway claims this will set a dangerous precedent. Having taught previously at comprehensive schools in Essex and Wiltshire, Holloway states the right to withdraw children from RE lessons can be hijacked by those wanting to "incite religious hatred".

He further stated it was important for young children to learn about different religions and world views. This would help them get along with people from different backgrounds and beliefs. Moreover, RE lessons can also help foster better community relations and combat extremism.

Writing in a blog on the Church's Facebook page, he said, "Sadly, and dangerously, the right of withdrawal from RE is now being exploited by a range of 'interest groups' often using a dubious interpretation of human rights legislation.

“The right of withdrawal from RE now gives comfort to those who are breaking the law and seeking to incite religious hatred”.

He claims the right to withdraw students from RE lesson "perpetuates the myth" that classes are linked to worship. RE classes only seek to contribute to a "broad and balanced curriculum" by teaching children about a range of beliefs and faiths.

"Through RE teacher social media forums and feedback from our RE advisers, I am aware that some parents have sought to exploit the right to withdraw children from RE lessons,” Holloway told the Press Association.

"This is seemingly because they do not want their children exposed to other faiths and world views, in particular Islam.

"We are concerned that this is denying those pupils the opportunity to develop the skills they need to 'live well together' as adults."

He went on to say that schools are put in an "impossible situation" as they have to show Ofsted inspectors they are preparing students for life in Britain.

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"Anecdotally, there have also been some cases in different parts of the country of parents with fundamentalist religious beliefs also taking a similar course," he said.

"This is not confined to any one particular religion or area of the country.

The Church of England is far from alone in this view and we support the broad consensus across the sector - both from teachers and RE advisers - that the right of withdrawal from RE is being exploited by a minority and should now be reviewed."

This story originally appeared on The Telegraph.

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