The British Humanist Association (BHA) has responded to consultations organised by the Department for Education (DfE) and Ofqual on subject content and assessment objectives for new GCSE, AS and A level religious studies qualifications to be taught in English schools. In its responses, the BHA has called for it to be possible to systematically study a non-religious worldview, and for content on Humanism to be introduced at GCSE level to sit alongside annexes on the six principal religions. This position has beensupported in an open letter by some 113 leading philosophers, RE academics, consultants, advisors and teachers, and children’s authors, and a similar position has been taken in the responses of the Religious Education Council for England and Wales (REC) and the National Association of Teachers of RE (NATRE).
Working with teachers, philosophers and RE experts, the BHA has produced an annex on Humanism to sit alongside the existing annexes on the principal religions. This was initially produced prior to the launch of the DfE’s public consultation, but after the public consultation launched the BHA held its own parallel consultation with relevant experts on what the content of the annex should look like. Following on from this and a request by the DfE for the BHA to provide ‘sources’ for the ideas contained within, a revised, more rigorous and fully sourced version was submitted at the end of the month.
In its response to the DfE’s consultation, the BHA has called for the subject content to be amended to ensure that the language used is inclusive of non-religious worldviews throughout, as is the case in the 2013 RE curriculum framework for key stages 1-3. It should be possible to systematically study a non-religious worldview at both GCSE and A level (but not to study non-religious worldviews for the whole qualification, just as it shouldn’t be possible to study just one religion), and content on Humanism should be added.
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