British Humanist Association e-bulletin 10th August 2009
The right to freedom of belief
We have been thinking a lot about the human rights of young people recently. We think about them a lot anyway, with human rights laws and practices forming the basis for much of our campaigning work, but over the last couple of weeks we have been focussing much of our efforts there.
As well as having a section on child rights in our response to ‘Rights and Responsibilities’ and continuing our work with child rights groups (see News below), we have been working on the problems caused by collective worship in schools. The idea that all pupils must be involved in a (broadly Christian) act of worship in school goes against all the protection of freedom of belief that human rights thinking has achieved.
Those who support collective worship may well argue that there isn’t a problem as parents have the right to withdraw their children. However, as we have pointed out, this does not mean that a young person can withdraw themselves – if they have a different religion or belief to their parents this puts them in a very difficult situation.
Essentially, an act of worship of whatever designation (or even the experimental ‘interfaith’ kind) means that some people (perhaps the majority) are forced to take part despite being non-religious. Surely the education system owes non-religious pupils more than that?
In the same vein, there’s more news below of Andrew Copson on Teacher’s TV, discussing Humanism in schools, and an opportunity for a volunteer to join their local SACRE.
(Things are changing slowly, but most children are still made to sit through hours and hours, of what they may consider, sometimes, a combined view with their parents; quite barbaric and medieval, interminable, shallow and utter nonsense (for them). This does not, even in the slightest or even can compare; with the excitement of exploration and wonder of the latest discoveries and adventures, and in, the sudden emerging of a myriad of facts – ‘modern enlightenment’ – that are very ‘real’ and called *‘proper’ truths) *scientific or anthropological. Also, many ‘Proper Truths’ in education may be neglected by the great amount of time stupidly wasted on many superstitions. This may lead some to self-harming, and in; the harming of any progress that may be gained for our future societies positive outlook for improvement. ‘World History’ has shown, by now, this is a fact of life and most clearly.
Against Humanity http://books.google.com/books?id=dabhkdJ_xQ4C&lpg=PP1&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q=&f=false Page 20
Thursday 13 August 2009
ReformRE – epetition response
We received a petition asking:
“We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to commission a review of the law on Religious Education, with a view to reforming them.”
Details of Petition:
“The Department for Children, Schools and Families has published new guidance on RE, which reaffirms the current status quo in RE in English schools. Many people hoped that the new guidance would act instead to bring real changes in RE which would take account of the changed social and educational context in which RE is now taught. Whatever they believe about how RE should be reformed, many people now believe that the law on RE should be at least reviewed, in order that these outdated laws (which have remained unchanged while the rest of the curriculum has been reformed) should be considered with fresh eyes. Please sign this petition to call for such a review!.”
Read the Government’s response:
In April the Department for Children Schools and Families requested the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency run a consultation exercise on non-statutory guidance for teaching RE in maintained schools.
This exercise was part of the broader Primary Curriculum review and the consultation ran from 30 April to 24 July. The new guidance, currently in draft form, updates the previous guidance on teaching RE contained in Circular 1/94. The draft guidance has been revised in light of subsequent social, educational and legal changes. Once all responses to the consultation have been analysed and considered, a final version of the revised guidance will be published in autumn.
However, we have no plans at present to reform or review legislation as it currently stands with regard to teaching RE in maintained schools.