I am writing in regard to a campaigning issue which may be of interest to you, and to sample interest amongst CLHG members for more campaigning in the future.
As part of their longstanding campaigning for social inclusion and fairness in education, the BHA and Accord coalition are leading a campaign to make Religious Education objective and balanced within the state education system. Specifically they believe that RE should teach about a wide range of different beliefs, including humanism.
As discussed in a recent event hosted by the CLHG, there is currently no statutory guidance on what schools must teach within RE, despite it being a subject schools are legally required to teach. Although many Standing Advisory Councils on Religious Education (SACREs) do their best to deliver a balanced syllabus to their local community and voluntary controlled schools, voluntary aided religious schools are free to teach the lessons in any way they see fit.
As raised in our meeting, the Government’s recent review of religious education has failed to address the partiality and lack of balance of RE in many schools. Because the current inadequacies in the way that RE is taught are a result of primary legislation, the BHA, Accord coalition and many others believe that the laws governing RE should be reviewed.
To this end, an Early Day Motion (EDM 1758) has been tabled by Labour MP Ashok Kumar. This backs the inclusion of non-religious beliefs as part of the school curriculum, and calls for the Government to review the law on RE. Specifically it reads:
"That this House believes that fair and balanced education about religious and non-religious beliefs should be a part of the school curriculum and that it is important that such a subject be broad, objective and balanced; notes that the new draft guidance on religious education (RE) published by the Department for Children, Schools and Families contributes little to the evolution of the subject and fails to address any of the concerns surrounding the subject of RE; further believes that the current statute law on religious education is no longer fit for purpose in terms of the content and the mechanism of deciding on syllabuses it prescribes; and calls on the Government to commission a Government or independent review of the primary legislation on RE with a view to reforming the law on RE."
If you agree with the aims of the campaign, please help by:
1) Writing to your MP asking them to support EDM 1758. The more MPs that support the Early Day Motion, the more prominence the issue will have in parliament. You can find the EDM here:
And your MP’s name and address here:
2) Signing the Number 10 petition calling for an independent review of RE:
If you would like further information on the campaign itself, please contact Coordinator Alex Kennedy at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0207 462 4990.
I hope you find a free minute to add your voice to this campaign.
On a general note, if you are interested in getting more involved in the campaigning side of humanism, please get in touch with me by way of a return email (make sure it goes to email@example.com and not the whole group!). The CLHG is thinking about putting together a sort of campaigning ‘sub-group’, which depending on numbers, may write letters, attend and organise demonstrations and hustings, meet with MPs/MEPs and network with like-minded campaigning bodies with similar aims. I would be particularly interested in hearing from those involved in other social inclusion or human rights groups who coordinate similar activities, and how well it works.
Event and Facebook Organiser
Central London Humanist Group