Religious Education in Schools

Petition – in the House of Commons at 9:04 pm on 9th March 1994.

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Photo of Mr Neville Trotter Mr Neville Trotter , Tynemouth 9:04 pm, 9th March 1994

I have the honour to present a petition to the honourable Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled in the name of Mrs. Jane Cooper and hundreds of my constituents and a total of more than 4,000 people throughout the north-east of England.

The humble petition of the residents of the north-east of England sheweth that the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority has produced proposals that advocate as the norm the teaching of three non-Christian faiths by the age of 11, which, in view of young children's limited capacity to understand even Christianity, is educationally unsound, will result in confusion in young children's minds and will inevitably trivialise all faiths.

The petitioners are concerned that primary school children should be given a thorough grounding in the Christian faith. Only 3 per cent. of the population adhere to a non-Christian faith. To teach non-Christian faiths to children under the age of 11 only confuses them. The place for such teaching is the secondary school. The petitioners welcome the recent advice from the Secretary of State that Christianity should predominate at every stage of religious education. They therefore call on him to instruct the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority to bring forward proposals to ensure that the new model syllabuses for religious education concentrate on the basics of Christianity for infant and junior school children.

The petition concludes: Wherefore your petitioners pray that your honourable House will urge the Secretary of State for Education to direct the said authority to bring forward sensible proposals requiring the concentration on Christian traditions in the primary school so that young people come to understand something of the faith and values which have shaped our nation's culture, laws and institutions and created the proper tolerance and protection for the 3 per cent. of the population who adhere to a non-Christian faith. And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray, etc.

To lie upon the Table.