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Chafford Hundred councillor backs religious education campaign

PUBLISHED: 15:45 27 November 2014 | UPDATED: 15:45 27 November 2014

Cllr Tunde Ojetola

Cllr Tunde Ojetola

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A Chafford Hundred Councillor is backing a campaign to increase religious tolerance in the borough through education in schools from primary level and beyond.

Cllr Tunde Ojetola sits on the SACRE committee (Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education), an independent body set up by the Government, which considers the provision of religious education in the area.

SACRE has been formed in Thurrock for nearly six years but Cllr Ojetola says now it needs to make its impact known as the borough is becoming more diverse.

He said: “Thurrock has close to 30,000 residents from black ethic minority groups with various cultures. We are not saying school pupils should not learn about British culture but we should understand each other better to promote religious tolerance and a peaceful and harmonious community.”

He added: “In some schools, the teaching of religious education is at a very low level and we want to encourage schools to increase that, because in my view, the more we can teach about various religions right from the onset, the less extremism we will have and the less misunderstanding we’ll have of different religious beliefs across Thurrock.”

The SACRE committee is made up of 15 members including local head teachers, elected councillors and representatives of various religious groups including Christian denominations, Pentacostal, Muslim, Jewish, Sikh and Indian religions.

The body sets a religious education syllabus with guidance from the Department of Education.

Eighteen local schools replied to a recent consultation by SACRE, of which only five weren’t following the outlined syllabus.

Cllr Ojetola said: “What we want to know is if schools aren’t using the recommended religious education syllabus, then what syllabus are they using? We need to ensure the right level of teaching is started from the onset and carried through to GCSE. In some schools, teachers are teaching RE as a second subject which isn’t good enough.”

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