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English bishops call for restoration of religious education to nation’s high school curriculum

Catholic World News - November 21, 2012

The bishops of England and Wales have criticized a government decision to remove religious education from the list of officially recognized high school academic subjects.

“The Bishops’ Conference urges the UK and Welsh Assembly governments to safeguard the place of Religious Education in the curriculum of all schools and academies, and, in the case of England, to reconsider the inclusion of Religious Education in the English Baccalaureate and in the proposed English Baccalaureate Certificates (EBCs),” the bishops of England and Wales stated at their November meeting.

“The Bishops’ Conference reaffirms that Religious Education is the core subject in Catholic schools and academies requiring 10% of curriculum time. In view of the recent reallocation of resources in Initial Teacher Training to English Baccalaureate subjects in England, the Bishops’ Conference seeks assurances that the supply of highly qualified Religious Education teachers will be ensured as a matter of government policy,” they continued.

Linking the issue to parent rights, the bishops added that they recognize that

all parents and legal guardians have the right and duty to educate their children. Catholic parents have an additional duty and right to choose those schools and academies which best promote the Catholic education of their children (cf. Can. 793 §1). Mindful that Religious Education is at the very heart of the curriculum in Catholic schools and academies, its exclusion from the core academic subjects as defined by the English Baccalaureate effectively limits the ability of parents to choose schools and academies, and their right to ensure the education of their children is conducted in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions (cf. European Convention on Human Rights, Protocol 2, Article 1). The Bishops’ Conference therefore requests the government to uphold parents' rights in this regard.

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