by Crtstina Odone THE GOVERNMENT has emphasised its commitment to religious education in a document released this week by the Department of Education.
Calling RE "one of the most important aspects of a child's education". the first consultation document to stern from the White Paper, insists that "proper regard should continue to be paid to the nation's Christian heritage and traditions in the context of both the religious education and collective worship provided in schools".
The Secretary to the Department for Catholic Education and Formation, Fr Harry Stratton, praised the document as "enormously encouraging" and told the Catholic Herald that the bishops of England and Wales will "welcome warmly" the tone adopted in the Government paper.
The recommendations outlined in the paper will not, Fr Stratton pointed out, affect Catholic grantmaintained schools as these teach RE according to their own trust deeds. Nonetheless, Fr Stratton stressed the important contribution made by the document to all religious schools in its emphasising of the key role played by RE in the curriculum.
The paper sets out a number of proposals on religious education including the recommendation that all local education authorities which have not reviewed their agreed syllabuses on RE since 1988 do so within a year.
The paper also proposes that all RE syllabuses will have to comply with the Education Reform Act of 1988. Grantmaintained schools will be given increased freedom to choose to follow the agreed religious education syllabus used by any local education authority, not just the one used in their own area.
In releasing the consultative document. Education Minister Emily Blatch said that the Department for Education aimed to "give further impetus to the development of religious education".