Parents in England sue UK Government over exclusion of Humanism from GCSE curriculum

Three humanists and their children are going to court tomorrow, supported by the British Humanist Association to challenge the Government’s decision to exclude non-religious worldviews from the latest subject content for GCSE Religious Studies (RS). The content, on which exam boards must base their specifications, was published earlier this year and failed to allow for the in-depth study of a non-religious worldview such as Humanism, despite widespread support for such an option being included. The parents, all of whom have children that are set to take their GCSEs in the next few years, are judicially reviewing the Government’s decision.

Both the Religious Education Council of England and Wales (REC) and the National Association of Teachers of RE (NATRE), which reaffirmed their support for non-religious worldviews being taught in detail alongside religions, also opposed the Government decision to exclude Humanism, as did 85% of the public in response to the Department for Education’s subsequent consultation.

One of the three parents acting as a claimant in the case, Kate Bielby, said ‘I completely recognise the importance of children learning about the different religions, especially in our increasingly diverse society. What I object to is the lack of parity between religious beliefs and non-religious worldviews in the school curriculum, which in the eyes of children may well lead to the belief that religion, in whatever form, has a monopoly on truth and on morality. This is not accurate, it reflects neither the views of the population nor the traditions of the country, and we shouldn’t be encouraging our children to believe it.’

Situation in Scotland

The situation in Scotland is very different. Although the Curriculum for Excellence makes not specific mention of humanism, it does cover ‘non-religious world-views’ as a core element.


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