Achieving pluralism? A critical analysis of the inclusion of non-religious worldviews in RE policy in England and Wales after R (Fox) v Secretary of State for Education

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    Abstract

    In 2015, the High Court ruled that the British Government had made ‘a false and misleading statement of law’ when it claimed a Religious Studies (RS) GCSE syllabus that excluded the systematic teaching of non-religious worldviews like humanism would meet the statutory requirements for teaching Religious Education (RE) at Key Stage 4. This was because the narrowly religious specification of the syllabus would permit RE teaching that constituted a failure in the state’s duty to ‘take care that information or knowledge included in the curriculum is conveyed in a pluralistic manner’ and ‘accord equal respect to different religious convictions, and to non-religious belief’.

    This duty, enshrined in international human rights law via Article 2 of Protocol No. 1 to the European Convention on Human Rights and given further effect in UK law by the Human Rights Act, has underpinned every case regarding RE to come before the European Court of Human Rights. However, to date, Fox v Secretary of State for Education is the only domestic case law to deal with the subject in England or Wales. This paper examines the legal implications of the Fox judgment, before turning to a critical policy analysis of its influence on RE policy in England and, more recently, Wales.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalBritish Journal of Religious Education
    Early online date17 Feb 2022
    DOIs
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Feb 2022

    Bibliographical note

    Publisher Copyright:
    © 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

    Keywords

    • England
    • Wales
    • human rights
    • humanism
    • religious education

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Education
    • Religious studies

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