FREE schools must teach RE
or lose their funding, the Government has insisted, after a dispute
in Bristol over a new free school that said that it planned to drop
the subject, writes a staff reporter.
The Bristol Primary
School, which is due to open next September, said that parents had
been "robust in expressing their wish for religion to not be a key
focus of the school, preferring instead to provide religious and
faith-led guidance and information to their children at home,
through the wider community, and chosen places of worship".
After concerns were raised
by clergy in the area, and the Department for Education (DfE) had
been alerted, the school has now said that RE will be included as
part of the curriculum. A statement on its website said: "All free
schools are required by the Department for Education to teach
Religious Education (RE) and we have included this as part of our
curriculum. This includes the teaching of a range of religious
morals and values as well as giving context to religion through
history, geography and culture."
Free schools do not have
to follow the curriculum, but they must teach religious education
and offer a daily act of worship. In a non-religious free school,
the worship should be "broadly Christian", the DfE guidelines
The Priest-in-Charge of St
Paul's, Bristol, the Revd Barrie Green, raised concerns about the
school's proposals to drop RE. "I spoke to the school's new
principal, who told me that if it was a legal requirement, the
school would do it."
Mr Green is a governor at a church school in the area, where
Muslim children make up 80 per cent of the pupils.