Faiths come together to launch new religious education syllabus

Representatives from a number of faith and belief groups came together this week to celebrate diversity in Merton and launch the borough’s new Religious Education syllabus for 5-14 year-olds.

(l-r back row): Saleem Sheikh ( Islam) Yvette Stanley (Director of children, schools and families), Reverend Kate Tuckett (Christianity), Ann Clark (Judaism); (l-r front row): Audrey King (Humanism), Peter Kendrick (Christianity), Gita Maheshwaran (Hinduism), Asad Malik and Waleed Ahmad (Ahmaddiya community).

The syllabus covers the major faiths and belief groups represented in Merton: Christianity, Sikhism, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Humanism. Children across Merton’s schools are all set to learn about the similarities and differences between religions and beliefs and how they are practiced in Merton and around the world. The syllabus was developed in partnership with the Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education (SACRE).

The syllabus looks at all aspects of faith and belief including deities, sacred buildings, sacred books and values. Through the syllabus, young people will also learn about the various festivals, including marriage and birth rites as well as death and the symbols used by to the faith and belief groups.

Head teachers and representatives from faith and belief groups attended a special event hosted by Merton Council to formally launch the syllabus. At the event, delegates heard from the children of Pelham Primary School talk about their thoughts and perceptions of religions and beliefs.

Leader of Merton Council Councillor Stephen Alambritis said: “The new syllabus will provide our school children with a broad knowledge of the various faiths and beliefs represented in Merton. We are lucky to live in a rich and culturally diverse borough and we can benefit so much by learning about each other’s faiths and beliefs to gain a greater understanding of our wonderful and multi-faceted society.”

Chair of SACRE Peter Kendrick, introducing the syllabus to Merton schools, said: “As members of SACRE, we represent a diverse range of the faiths and beliefs of our community in Merton. While we represent very different perspectives on faith and belief, nevertheless, through SACRE we work together constructively and respectfully to create the Agreed Syllabus, which will enable our children and young people to understand each others’ beliefs.”

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Notes to editors

The SACRE is responsible for advising the Local Authority on matters relating to Collective Worship in school but this occasion is dealt with separately and is not part of RE teaching.

The content of RE in school is determined by a local SACRE. This body is empowered to produce, for the Local Authority’s schools, an Agreed Syllabus for RE. This syllabus is written by an Agreed Syllabus Conference and is reviewed every five years.

SACRE is made up of representatives from four groups:

  • Christian, Other Faiths and Beliefs
  • Church of England
  • Teacher Associations
  • Local authority
  • co-opted members.