Non-believers' view to be included in RE lessons
PUPILS will be taught a secular viewpoint as part of their religious education classes when they return to school in September.
Cheshire East Council has approved an updated syllabus for RE which will be taught in non-faith schools across the borough.
But some councillors have expressed concern about including the secular stance alongside teaching about Christianity and other religions, saying it will decrease the amount of time available for the actual 'religious' part of the course.
Children will learn about Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism and now the secular view. Another religion can also be taught if it is prominent locally.
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Councillor Louise Brown believes Christianity is being sidelined.
She said: "One of the concerns I have with this is that there's limited time available and it will be further diluted if we start adding the secular world view.
"There's no legal obligation to teach a secular view."
The syllabus was created after discussions with religious leaders and teachers. It outlines what should be learned, but not how it is taught.
Councillor Steve Wilkinson supports the new syllabus. He said: "Religious education does allow schools and teachers to challenge the learners, not to convince them that one religion is better than another."
Each local authority sets its own religious education syllabus, but is guided by national principles which require "the syllabus reflects that the religious traditions of Great Britain are in the main Christian, while taking account of the teaching and practices of the other principal religions represented in Great Britain."
Councillor Rhoda Bailey was keen for more study of the Bible to be included in the syllabus.
She said: "The King James Bible must rank as one of the greatest English literature books of all time, but we don't teach it in schools.
"It also gives a background to the work of the great masters. Youngsters don't know the Bible stories the works are depicting. If you want to know about art, music and history, all have a basis in the Bible.
"A little Bible study goes a long way."
Councillor Hilda Gaddum said many famous phrases also came from the Bible, which were important for people to know.
She said: "I'm saddened we can't go down a more pro-Christian route, but we must follow the guidelines."
What do you think?