Yes, I know it’s a bit like writing “Dog chases postman”, but it is good to see our Bishops expressing their mind on RE. At their November conference at our own Hinsley Hall they resolved the following:
The bishops agreed four resolutions relating to Catholic education and schools at their November 2012 plenary meeting: Religious Education and the Common Good, Religious Education in Catholic Schools, Religious Education and Parental Choice and the bishops welcomed the publication of the new Religious Education Curriculum Directory.
Religious Education and the Common Good
The Bishops’ Conference affirms the important role that good quality Religious Education, taught with proper academic rigour, plays in the education of young people and in developing the spiritual dimension of the human person. Therefore, 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).
Religious Education in Catholic Schools
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.
Religious Education and Parental Choice
The Bishops’ Conference recognises 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.
Religious Education Curriculum Directory
The Bishops’ Conference welcomes the new Religious Education Curriculum Directory for Catholic Schools published by the Department for Catholic Education and Formation as the foundational document for the development of Religious Education in Catholic schools, academies and colleges in England and Wales.