I’ve responded belatedly to the new guidance on RE, as follows:
Rt Hon Ed Balls MP
Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families
Department for Children, Schools and Families
Great Smith Street
London SW1P 3BT
Dear Mr Balls,
I am writing to express my disappointment at the new draft guidance produced for RE in England, particularly its failure to make it clear that the subject should be the study of both religious and non-religious beliefs and to recognise and recommend the eligibility of Humanists for full membership of SACREs and ASCs.
I am personally particularly affected by this. I am a Humanist and a full member of Suffolk SACRE. I am very concerned that the new guidance will lead to my position as a full member of the SACRE being seriously undermined and to a consequent lack of representation of non-religious people on the SACRE, even though my local area is at least 16% non-religious â€“ which means there are more non-religious people than all the non-Christian religions combined. When my SACRE made me a full member, without dissent, they agreed that since our new RE syllabus (introduced in September 2007) included Humanism â€œand secular world viewsâ€, it would be inconsistent with this inclusion to exclude me from full membership of the SACRE. In my experience, as a frequent visitor to schools, both as a tutor with Suffolk Inter-Faith Resource and as a Humanist speaker, a majority of secondary school students identify themselves as non-believers. It is therefore especially important that the syllabus covers non-belief and its various expressions.