Ministers' Guide on Teaching Religion

Article excerpt

Atheism and other secular philosophies can be taught to children aged seven and up - if schools decide it is "appropriate", according to the first national religious education guidelines.

The Government's RE framework, which was published yesterday, has no legal force but is intended to act as a guide for local education authorities in England when they draw up study programmes for their local schools.

Backed by the major Christian denominations, the Muslim Council of Britain and the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the framework is intended to promote respect for other people's religions.

It was developed by exams watchdog the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) and sets out what pupils at each stage of state education are expected to learn.

Although pupils do not have to take public exams in RE, schools have to timetable the subject until the end of sixth form.

Christianity should be on the curriculum for all age groups, the framework said.

From the age of seven, children should study at least one other major religion and "another religious community with a significant local presence, where appropriate".

From the age of 11, they should study at least three major religions including Christianity and "the world views of pupils, including, where appropriate, secular philosophies". …