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GCSE RE content ruled unlawful ... a victory for common sense!

(31 Posts)
shouldbecookin Wed 25-Nov-15 17:13:11

Have just heard the news that the BHA has won their court case against the Gvt who refused to include non-religious world views in the secondary RE curriculum. Woohoo!

humanism.org.uk/2015/11/25/judge-rules-government-broke-the-law-in-excluding-humanism-from-school-curriculum/

shouldbecookin Wed 25-Nov-15 17:24:26

BBC coverage here: www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-34921857

BackforGood Wed 25-Nov-15 20:02:01

So how is including non-religious views in an exam that is called religious studies a victory for common sense? Sounds quite the opposite to me confused

Floggingmolly Wed 25-Nov-15 20:18:06

And me hmm

roguedad Wed 25-Nov-15 20:22:21

It is a victory for common sense. It is absolutely vital that kids who have been abused by having religion rammed down their throat (especially at ghastly faith schools) to be made aware that not believing in a deity is a valid approach to life of no more or less value than having a faith.

I am thrilled by the news today. Long overdue and absolutely vital. What needs to happen next is that some reduced form of such a new syllabus is compulsory in all schools, and in a context where all faiths and none are treated on a strictly equal basis.

BackforGood - it is highly regrettable that you display the same contempt for atheist and humanist views as the twats behind the existing syllabus. Yours is exactly the kind of attitude that needs to be culled from our education system.

FanSpamTastic Wed 25-Nov-15 20:30:49

The claimant's case was "that the subject content [of proposed GCSEs curriculum] gave unlawful priority to the teaching of religious views as compared to non-religious views, including those of humanism. The claimant's case is that the state has a duty to ensure that any educational provision it makes for RE treats religious and non-religious views on an equal footing ...".

The problem arose in an assertion by the Secretary of State for Education that the new GCSE content "is consistent with the requirements for the statutory provision of religious education in current legislation".

Schools have a legal obligation to provide religious education. Under the Education Act 2002 the provision must be "balanced and broadly based".

So the finding is that it cannot be balanced if you exclude non-religious views from the equation and only study religious views. If the GCSE was simply an academic subject and religious education continued to be taught alongside it then I think there would not be an issue. The problem is the assertion by the Secretary of State that the study of this GCSE would satisfy the legal requirement for religious education.

GinandJag Wed 25-Nov-15 20:33:16

Stupidity

BrendaandEddie Wed 25-Nov-15 20:35:30

Rouguedad - you havent been IN an RS lesson for a while have you?

You have it TOTALLY wrong

BrendaandEddie Wed 25-Nov-15 20:37:22

Religious studies is the study of RELIGIONS. No teacher these days ' rams' religion in any orifice.

FanSpamTastic Wed 25-Nov-15 20:37:57

I don't believe that a judge applying the legislation can be considered stupidity. The only stupidity arising was the Government making an error of law. I am glad we live in a democracy where the Government is held to account for the laws it writes.

prh47bridge Wed 25-Nov-15 20:59:44

The thread heading does not appear to be entirely accurate and some of the reporting seems to be a little misleading. The judge specifically stated that it is not illegal to have an RS GCSE which is wholly devoted to the study of religion, i.e. which excludes non-religious world views.

The judge's concern appears to have been around a statement that suggested schools have fulfilled their legal obligations which he thought schools may interpret as meaning that they don't have to include non-religious views in their teaching.

The DfE has already said that as the judge clearly stated that the GCSE is not unlawful they don't need to change it.

The BHA appear to interpret the ruling differently. However I have to say that the BHA's interpretation appears to directly contradict the judge's words.

BrendaandEddie Wed 25-Nov-15 21:05:38

any good teacher mentions where secular views contrast with religious ones

I do it daily.

BrendaandEddie Wed 25-Nov-15 21:07:55

here is the ruling
www.judiciary.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/r-fox-v-ssfe.pdf

balletgirlmum Wed 25-Nov-15 21:14:39

My fiercely atheist dd Loves RS. She wants to take it to GCSE.

Fyaral Wed 25-Nov-15 21:17:09

FFS I am an RE teacher and an atheist. We already look at non religous views including philosophy and ethics. We mainly however study religion as we teach RELIGIOUS education. We are very careful to present everything objectively and children are never told what to think. I spend a great deal of time at the moment discussing how religion affects the world. A lot of our children are very anti Muslim so I spend a lot of time discussing ISIS, what they believe/do and how it differs from most of Islam.

This ruling seems like bullshit.

Oakmaiden Wed 25-Nov-15 21:17:21

"No teacher these days ' rams' religion in any orifice.""any good teacher mentions where secular views contrast with religious ones"

Have you ever taught in a Catholic school? I accept they are not all the same, but I did a day's supply in a Catholic school, and was astonished at the religious angle taken for every single subject on the days planning. Except, possibly, maths. Maths may not have been... Not to mention praying at the start of every day, before breaks and lunchtimes, and then at home time...

I really doubt those children were being exposed to a broad variety of world views. Which, no doubt, is why the parents' chose that school, but still... definitely at odds with the experience of the posters I have quoted above...

Everhopeful Wed 25-Nov-15 21:27:31

Roguedad, you worry me and show why I don't engage in discussions with atheists: it's just too damn scary. You clearly were over-catechised as a child - so was I, but I never lost sight of what my religion gives me even though I fully accept you don't feel the same way.

I welcome the change (though agree with posters who have said that the BHA seems to have misinterpreted the ruling) in modern religious education. It's much more balanced and all should learn about all faiths (I don't agree that atheists have no faith - their faith is in the absence of God, that's all). I also agree with Oakmaiden that not all faith schools are the same and that Catholic ones have a tendency (only that: I went to a Catholic school and we discussed many other faiths, though not atheism particularly to be fair twas a long time ago ) not to be as balanced in their approach. Otoh I've no memory of prayers so many times a day (I associate that more with Islam tbh!) - probably one in morning assembly.

SleepIsForTheWeakAnyway Wed 25-Nov-15 21:33:12

I agree with oakmaiden.
I had a hell of a fight withdrawing my DC from acts of worship at his secondary school. Apparently, as far as they were concerned, the school rules superseded the law of the land. Some schools need to be told that people of different/no faith are also valid members of the community.

BrendaandEddie Wed 25-Nov-15 21:38:33

i wouldnt send my kid to a Catholic school for their abhorrent views on homosexuality

I am also an atheist RS teacher. agree it a WILDLY popular subject

shouldbecookin Wed 25-Nov-15 21:43:10

I don't think the BHA have misinterpreted the ruling - they say quite clearly that: "While the Government will not be immediately compelled to change the GSCE, religious education syllabuses around the country will now have to include non-religious worldviews such as humanism on an equal footing, and pupils taking a GCSE will also have to learn about non-religious worldviews alongside the course."

The DfE now have a choice - either include it in the GCSE syllabus or face the awkward situation where schools are having to teach extra RE in addition to the GCSE syllabus. It seems likely that they will change the GCSE syllabus, in line with the advice that they were originally given from multiple sources.

Religious Education should not only be the study of Religions, but also the study of why people have religion, and how belief has evolved over the centuries. For that discussion to be balanced it's essential to include non-religious world views.

Everhopeful Wed 25-Nov-15 21:48:11

Hi shouldbecookin - perhaps I misunderstood: I thought the BHA was saying the GCSE itself was illegal. I don't think I've said anything that disagrees with including non-theist views in the curriculum. DD is at a faith school where it seems a good chunk of the other DDs are from atheist households and it would be inappropriate for their views not to be invited, which is probably why they are. As BrendaandEddie says, it's quite popular, being more a variant of philosophy than anything.

shouldbecookin Wed 25-Nov-15 21:53:26

Everhopeful, yes my DS's school calls it Religion & Philosophy, and includes non-religious views too, which is exactly why they should be in the GCSE syllabus. It seems daft to teach one thing and examine another.

Plus some schools simply don't have a lot of non-religious children, and so don't hear their views.

Everhopeful Wed 25-Nov-15 21:58:47

Fair point! grin

sashh Thu 26-Nov-15 07:09:25

We are very careful to present everything objectively and children are never told what to think.

And that is exactly what should happen, but it doesn't happen in all schools.

Many (not all) RC schools slant everything towards their faith eg in History I was told how terrible Elizabeth 1 was for killing 'the 40 martyrs' and how wonderful Mary I was for restoring the RC faith (the 300+ she killed was not mentioned).

As for RE, when RC schools were forced to teach about at least one other faith the school next door to the church my parents attended decided to teach 'Hinduism' a)it was taught as 'who can believe a man has an elephant's head?' type of thing and b) the school is an area with a large Muslim population so you would think teaching about your neighbours would be useful.

Otoh I've no memory of prayers so many times a day

I have, morning prayers or Mass on a Friday.
Angelus at 11.55
Hymns for a session once or twice a week.
Prayers before home time.

Once a term class mass, and then year mass.

Once in a while a week of 'retreat'.

So how is including non-religious views in an exam that is called religious studies a victory for common sense? Sounds quite the opposite to me

Because it is relevant. Like teaching about communism, if you just taught the ideals it would sound lovely, but if you compare and contrast with other ideologies you get a better picture.

If you teach about the suffragettes you have to teach about the suffragists and the views of those who didn't want women to vote (including many women).

If you are teaching nutrition you also teach what happens in the absence of nutrition.

You need to include zero when teaching maths.

Etc Etc

LooseAtTheSeams Thu 26-Nov-15 09:40:09

I welcome the ruling, not because I have any problem with the teaching of comparative religions (I am sometimes shocked by how little my religious friends know about other people's beliefs!) but because it is important to have a counterbalance to the idea that the only way to be able to live a morally good life is to be religious. Faith-based schools encourage children to believe that you have to be religious to be a good person. Humanism is an attempt to work through this, arguing we should help other people because they are humans like us. Learning about it, if it is taught properly, at least shows religious children why they should respect the views of the non-religious. It also shows non-religious children that whatever they think, religion is important to other people. RE is a good subject - it encourages discussion and critical thinking and it should have room to ask questions of religion as well as to explain it. It would be an even better subject if it was philosophy and ethics.

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