Teachers’ Union Demands Action on ‘Prejudiced’ Parents Withdrawing Children from Islam Lessons

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The government should take measures to stop parents withdrawing their children from some lessons where they have to study Islam or visit mosques, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) has said.

Parents are allowed to pull their children from some Religious Education (RE) lessons that conflict with their personal views. However, a motion passed by the ATL claims the power is being abused by “prejudiced” parents.

The teachers argued that studying Islam, as well as other religions, is key to preparing pupils for adult life in the UK.

The motion at the union’s conference was proposed by London teacher Richard Griffiths, who said removing children because of genuine religious beliefs was “very rare”, according to The Times.

Furthermore, such cases are “very different to the cases of parents with certain prejudices including Islamophobia and antisemitism who wish to remove their children from certain lessons or visits to places of worship that would significantly hinder the ability of the school to prepare a child for life in modern Britain”.

Last year Derek Holloway, a senior Church of England official, also said some parents should lose the right to withdraw their children from RE, claiming the right “gives comfort to those who are breaking the law and seeking to incite religious hatred”.

Mr. Griffiths also appeared to link missing the Islam lessons to so-called “hate crimes”, referring a recent investigation into reported offences involving race and ethnicity between 2015 and 2017, which have increased.

Kim Knappett, the union’s vice president, added that she had seen a letter from a parent requesting their child was removed from Religious Studies. The letter was reportedly so “foul” she thought the authorities needed to be informed.

The ATL motion urged the union to work with others to “determine the nature and extent of the selective use of the right of withdrawal”.

A Department for Education spokesman said: “Good quality religious education can develop children’s knowledge of the values and traditions of Britain and help foster understanding among different faiths and cultures.

“Parents have the right to withdraw their children from all or any part of religious education, but schools should make sure that parents who want to do this are aware of the religious education syllabus and its relevance to all pupils.”


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