CALLS FOR a review of the practices of compulsory religious education and daily assembly in schools have come from the National Union of Teachers.
But Catholic schools will not be effected by possible changes to the 1944 Education Act, since they are "maintained" and not governed by the same rules as secular state schools.
In a discussion paper Religious education in a multifaith society, the NUT claims that many teachers find current provision for religious education in schools "inimical to the spirit of multicultural education". It suggests that amendment may be necessary to the 1944 Education Act. The NUT is "ready to play a full part" in discussions between church and education representatives as to the revisions.
The NUT document also argues against demands for separate Muslim schools "principally because of the likely divisive effect of this step" and fears that such schools might "ghettoise" the Muslim community.
The general tone of the document is encouragement of "the trend towards providing information about world religions" and the new streets on "religious education rather than religious instruction".
The NUT admits that "this approach may not be acceptable to members of religious faiths which adopt a proselytising view of their faith" but says that "it would be acceptable to the majority of teachers, in the Union's view."
The discussion paper coincides with the report Catholic Education in a Multiracial Society a New Challenge by a working party set up by the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales.
One of its suggestions is that the Bishops should consider setting up a multifaith school which would allow non-Christian pupils to attend their own prayers. Such a school would also have some non-Christian teachers and governors.