Parents are pulling pupils out of RE because they don’t want their children to visit mosques or learn about Islam, new study shows
- Right to withdraw stems from 75-year-old law to protect religious minorities
- 71% of headteachers and heads of RE said they think law is ‘no longer required’
- The research by Liverpool Hope University also found confusion over the law
Parents not wanting their children to learn about Islam or visit mosques make up the majority of requests to withdraw pupils from religious education classes, a study has found.
Two thirds of requests were focused on concerns over Islam, the survey of headteachers found, followed by 7 per cent for Hinduism and Buddhism, 6 per cent for Christianity, 3.6 per cent for Judaism and 16 per cent for other reasons.
Parents are allowed to withdraw children from RE classes – a right that stems from a 75-year-old law to protect the rights of conscience of religious minorities from being forced to receive Christian religious instruction.
Parents not wanting their children to learn about Islam or visit mosques make up the majority of requests to withdraw pupils from religious education classes, a study has found (file photo)
But 71 per cent of the 450 headteachers and heads of RE in the survey said they think the law is ‘no longer required’.
The research, carried out by Liverpool Hope University and published in the British Journal of Religious Education, also found confusion over the law, with 27 per cent of heads incorrectly believing that parents who withdraw their children from RE need to provide them with an alternative syllabus to follow.
Dr Lundie, the Director of the Centre for Education and Policy Analysis at Liverpool Hope University, said: ‘The current settlement, involving the parental right of withdrawal from RE but no other aspect of the curriculum on grounds of conscience, raises important questions about the wider contribution of RE to the life of the school.
‘RE is bound up with the fundamental British values of mutual respect and tolerance for those of different faiths, so that it is hard to see how a school could support such a right without impacting on this wider duty of the school to prepare children for life in modern Britain.’