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Religious Education

Volume 530: debated on Thursday 30 June 2011

8. What steps the Church Commissioners are taking to support the teaching of religious education in schools. (62910)

Every diocese in the Church of England supports RE teaching in its schools, and most diocesan education advisers also support and provide materials for the teaching of RE in non-Church schools.

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. As I believe he knows, a petition with 140,000 signatures expressing concern at the exclusion of RE from the English baccalaureate was presented to Downing street yesterday. One unintended consequence of that exclusion is that the number of pupils applying to study RE at GCSE has dropped significantly, as have application rates for RE teacher training—by some 25%. What action can the Church Commissioners take to ensure that the study of RE is properly resourced, bearing in mind that it is still a statutory—that is, compulsory—subject for pupils in school up to 16 years old?

My hon. Friend raises a serious point about RE in the E-bac. She will know that the Bishop of Oxford, who chairs the National Society—in other words, he is the lead bishop on education in the Church of England—has, on several occasions, made clear the concerns of the Church of England, and indeed other faith groups, to ministerial colleagues in the Department for Education. I heard the Minister with responsibility for schools say in a debate in Westminster Hall that he would reflect on those representations, and we look forward to hearing what decisions Ministers take in respect of RE in the E-bac.