The news that MPs from all parties are joining forces to lobby for the continued importance of Religious Education in schools may conjure up memories of old-fashioned assemblies and re-told Bible stories, with a rare nod towards other religions for older pupils. RE, though, has undergone something of a renaissance, and the number studying it has quadrupled in 15 years.
The reason why MPs are suddenly taking an interest is that RE, while remaining compulsory in schools, will not count towards the new English Baccalaureate. That decision appears to have led to a reduction in the time devoted to it, although it remains compulsory for most pupils. Its exclusion from the Baccalaureate is probably right; but that does not mean it should be shelved. MPs are right to take an active interest. The increasing cultural diversity of many schools makes the teaching of RE in a formal school setting more important now, and not less.
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