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Integrated schools prove that all faiths can learn together - The Irish News
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Northern Ireland news

Integrated schools prove that all faiths can learn together

The report called for RE to be renamed and broadened to include more religions

Integrated schools prove that all faiths can work and learn together, campaigners have said.

Speaking following a report urging a school worship shake-up, integrated leaders said many schools already host inclusive assemblies.

The Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life said very few pupils experienced learning, including RE, in the company of children from other traditions.

Small but growing numbers of children from other cultural and religious backgrounds, it said, were not well served by a Churches-devised RE core syllabus "that positions itself as having an essential Christian character".

It noted that world religions had no formal place in the core syllabus until 2007, and even now study of them was only available at Key Stage 3, "on the basis of the Churches' argument that younger children would be confused".

The report said RE should be renamed and broadened to include more religions.

Malone College Principal Maire Thompson said many of her pupils were from varying religious and ethnic backgrounds.

"Four out of the six main world religions are represented at Malone and we do not practice confessional instruction," she said.

"Students are led on a spiritual journey and there is a free and open environment to discuss, probe and question in relation to all faiths. Pupils are involved in delivering and compiling inclusive assemblies based on personal experiences and knowledge. Major religious festivals are celebrated at assembly time."

Tina Merron, Chief Executive of the Integrated Education Fund, said the report was forward-looking.

"The report calls for an approach to worship and RE which reflects and accommodates the variety of backgrounds and beliefs represented in Northern Ireland. Integrated schools, by their very nature, address the increasing diversity of faiths, traditions and views we must learn to live with," she said.

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