*You only need to respond to question 1 and question 6*
- Click on this consultation document
- Scroll down and click 'continue'.
- Go to Question 1. Copy and paste the text below.
- Go to Question 6.
- Under ‘Religion, Faith and Belief: whole school guidance’, answer ‘No’.
- Copy and paste the text below into the response box then continue to the end of the survey by filling in your details:
QUESTION 1: (COPY AND PASTE)
The introduction offers an overview of some of the developments in education since 2014 with the suggestion that these are the reasons why the 2014 iteration of guidance requires to be refreshed. However, there is no explanation or justification for why the 2023 version should have departed so far from the previous version, why sections should be deleted and why disproportionate emphasis should be given to certain aspects.
The 2014 guidance could have been adapted and enhanced to include necessary developments while maintaining the previous content and ensuring that it remained high level guidance.
QUESTION 6: (COPY AND PASTE)
As a member of the Catholic Education Community, I have grave concerns that the paragraphs dedicated to Denominational Education (paragraphs 38 – 41) in the 2014 iteration of guidance have been deleted.
I ask that these be fully reinstated.
In addition, I request that Scottish Government reiterates their support for Denominational Education and that the Religious Authorities with a role in denominational education, in our context the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, continue to have the right to provide guidance on RSHP for their schools and that Scottish Government Guidance is complementary to that of the Religious Authority – not as 4.11 states that the guidance from religious authorities is ‘additional and complementary’.
It is striking that the term Catholic School is not used within this document and the phrase Denominational schools only once.
This section of the document gives no cognisance to the fact that approximately 20% of the school estate in Scotland is formed of Catholic schools, chosen by parents and families, of all faiths and none. A distinction must be made between schools with a distinctive faith character (i.e. denominational schools) and children raised in a religion or with religious belief.
A separate section should therefore be included within the main text of the document to reflect the place of denominational schools within the state system – as per the RSHP conduct paper of 2014. The current draft does not fully explain the legal protection and right of denominational schools, nor does it fully express the role of the denominational body in whose interest the school is managed.
As it is recognised that schools with a religious character have a distinctive approach across the whole school and in all areas of the curriculum, this should be reflected in this guidance paper.
Faith and belief influence all aspects of teaching and learning, and are not limited, for example, to the Catholic children and families in a Catholic school, but are the foundation for the mission, aims and values for the whole school community, including those families, not of the Catholic tradition who actively choose Catholic education. (The same would be true for those who choose a Jewish or Episcopalian school).
This distinctive nature is recognised in the Equality Act and was coherently presented in the denominational section of the current conduct paper and in particular through paragraphs 39 and 41.
In addition – in terms of this section relating to faith and belief:
The national census data from 2011 shows that 56% of Scottish people belong to a faith. Relationships and sexual behaviour are part of the key teachings of all of the major world religions, and particularly so for the 5 of the largest in Scotland (Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, Buddhism and Judaism).
It may be helpful to have an indication about what each Religion teaches on sexual relationships, so as to better equip teachers in their preparation for lessons, and to ensure that all pupils are fully included in learning.
Religiously aggravated hate crime remains a source of concern within Scotland. Catholics remain disproportionately likely to suffer such hate crimes."
Families, young people, schools and parishes, continue to raise concern regarding the intolerance and prejudice shown to young people who openly practice their faith and maintain the teachings of their religion on relationships and life issues. For example, this has been seen at universities where young people who support the right to life of unborn children have been discriminated against, Muslim families have raised concern that their religious beliefs are being contradicted in RSHP lessons and Christian families are anxious that matters relating to sexual health and sexuality are being taught at too early an age.
Christian teachers have noted that they feel increasingly coerced to teach against their conscience in matters relating to sexual relationships, and they report that pupils are hiding their faith belief in school for fear of bullying and intimidation.
Protection of Teachers with Religious Belief:
The previous iteration of the Guidance mentioned specifically the process through which teachers, who felt unable to teach aspects of RSHP due to their religious belief, could raise concerns. It is significant that this has been removed and suggests that Scottish Government has no concern for the beliefs of those tasked with delivering RSHP.
The inclusion of Whole School Guidance tables and links for websites from this point on in the Guidance is unhelpful. It clutters the guidance and suggests that these sites are being promoted or endorsed by Scottish Government. Scottish Government could not have facts checked each of these sites and cannot know what content may be added to them in the future.
It is unclear which parts of this document are the actual guidance and which parts are embedded appendices, for reference only. The previous iteration of guidance offered clear, high level guidance enabling local authorities and schools to work towards policy and practice.