Current school settlement for religion and belief out of date, say Lancaster experts

The Former Education Secretary Charles Clarke and Professor Linda Woodhead MBE have called on the government to reform the relationship between religion and schools with the publication of a series of policy recommendations.

The recommendations entitled ‘A New Settlement: Religion and Belief in Schools’ were launched this week at the House of Lords and come seven decades after the 1944 Education Act. The authors argue that reform is necessary to meet the challenges of a modern society and that the current agreement is no longer fit for purpose.

18 policy recommendations are made, covering the act of collective worship, the content and formation of the legally required RE curriculum and the operation of faith schools.

Professor Linda Woodhead said: “Over the last 70 years both religion and education in Britain have changed substantially, but the legislation around religion and schools has not. Reform is overdue. Getting this right is crucial if we are to equip young people to live in a multicultural religious and secular Britain, and a religiously vibrant and sometimes violent world.”

The publication draws on the collaboration of Professors Charles Clarke and Linda Woodhead at Lancaster University, where Charles Clarke has been Visiting Professor in Politics and Faith since 2010, and where Professor Woodhead directed Britain’s largest ever research programme on religion and society.

Since 2012, Charles Clarke and Linda Woodhead have co-organised the Westminster Faith Debates, supported by Lancaster University, the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council. They are designed to bring high-quality academic research on religion into public debate, and have featured world political and religious leaders, achieving global media coverage.

The new publication is freely available on the Westminster Faith Debates website.