Patten calls on schools to address moral issues

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The Independent Online
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SCHOOLS should offer pupils a clear set of moral values and give every child a chance to work out how to relate to God, John Patten, the Secretary of State for Education, declared yesterday, writes Colin Hughes.

He did not, however, expect children to adopt his own Christian faith: better 'a hardcore, robust humanist with a strong set of shared values' than 'a spiritually uncertain representative of one religion or another, dripping in self-doubt'.

In an article published yesterday in the Tablet, the Catholic periodical, Mr Patten, a Catholic, said schools 'should provide pupils with a clear and consistent set of values and attitudes which later underpin the decisions which they face about their behaviour and the effect that their behaviour has on others'.

It was also important, he said, that children should 'be opened up, full throttle, to the amazing, unanswerable, fundamental questions concerning the existence of God; to how to relate to God, and to an understanding of the spiritual life if they want to have one'.

To achieve those objectives, Mr Patten said 'each and every school should develop an ethos which pervades all school activities'. Moral and spiritual issues should be addressed in the curriculum and in the behaviour expected of staff and pupils.