Charles Clarke: Schools should introduce ‘moral education’ instead of RE

PinkNews logo on pink background with rainbow corners.

Former Labour politician Charles Clarke has called for mandatory worship in schools to be scrapped – and for RE to be rebranded as “moral education”.

The ex-Home Secretary made the claim in a Westminster Faith Debates report that he co-authored titled ‘A New Settlement: Religion and Belief in Schools.

The report states: “We think there is value in re-examining the post-1944 educational settlement between state and church in England in the light of contemporary belief and practices, illuminated by the latest research.

“On this basis we propose a new educational settlement which can better foster genuine understanding of modern religion and belief, and allow young people better to explore their own and other peoples’ religious and non-religious beliefs and come to their own conclusions.”

Mr Clarke proposes reforming religious education as religious and moral education – better incorporating with aspects of LGBT-inclusive sex and relationship education.

He said: “At the moment, the legal requirement for Key Stage 4, as set out in the most recent guidelines is that maths, science and English have to be provided, as well as physical education, citizenship, and computing.

“These all fall within the National Curriculum, with religious education and sex and relationship education outside it.

“There is a strong case for changing the requirement to study RE to a requirement to study religious, spiritual, moral, ethical, social, and cultural values.

“Such reform should better integrate RE and other elements of the curriculum such as PSHE, sex and relationship education, and education about values, and help ‘de-exceptionalise’ RE.

“This area of study would be different from and complementary to the GCSE in RE.”

The report also emphasises that faith schools must fulfil their obligations to all pupils.

Mr Clarke said: “Consideration should be given to [regulator] OFSTED re-establishing a strong inspection system to ensure that all schools, faith or not, properly fulfil their duty to promote community cohesion.”