Challenging religious intolerance

Posted on 06th October 2017

In a recent blog for the Independent Schools Council (ISC), Bedales Head of Partnerships Alice McNeill argues for the teaching of Religious Studies (RS) within the school curriculum so that a rootless youth, a decontextualized value system and the flourishing of extremist religious mentalities might be avoided.

Against a backdrop of rising ethnic and religious intolerance, Alice observes that not all teenagers have the opportunity to study religion. She says: “Although the subject still has protected status, without renewed emphasis on the importance of religious literacy, the opportunity to combat intolerance could be lost as the subject is subsumed by other curricular subjects.” Pressure to fully resource only EBacc subjects, she says, means that some schools have no choice but to sacrifice time for RS, with disastrous consequences for religious literacy.

She concludes: “The current trend is towards the secular in education in schools. Values education with the specific aim of countering any kind of religious extremism has become the preserve of the RS classroom, and this last bastion must be protected. It is the only subject to truly focus on our shared humanity, and without it I struggle to see how our British Values can be embedded.” 

Read a profile of Alice McNeill here.

ISC blog | Alice McNeill