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Education Minister: Schools must teach that Britain is a Christian country

Nicky Morgan says schools can prioritise religious over non-religious world views Credit: BBC/The Andrew Marr Show

Schools must teach pupils that Britain is a mainly Christian country and have "no obligation" to teach atheism, the Education Secretary has said.

Seeking to clarify a High Court ruling last month, which found the Government had unlawfully excluded non-religious views from the curriculum, Nicky Morgan said schools are still free to prioritise religious teachings.

New guidance from the Department for Education insists that non-religious beliefs need not be given "equal parity" with religious belief and that non-faith schools should reflect the fact that British religious traditions "are, in the main, Christian".

A recent case, brought by the British Humanist Association (BHA), sought to ensure that alternative world views were put before pupils in secondary schools.

Judges ruled last month that it had been wrong to suggest the content of the new Religious Studies (RS) GCSE could fulfil all of a school's religious education obligations.

Department of Education insists that non-religious beliefs need not be given Credit: PA

Mrs Morgan is said to have been concerned that humanists were using the court ruling to pressure schools into giving non-religious views more prominence:

This Government is determined to protect schools' freedom to set their own religious studies curriculum, in line with the wishes of parents and the local community.

The guidance I have issued today makes absolutely clear that the recent judicial review will have no impact on what is currently being taught in religious education.

I am clear that both faith and non-faith schools are completely entitled to prioritise the teaching of religion and faith over non-religious world views if they wish.

– Nicky Morgan, Education Secretary

But BHA chief executive Andrew Copson said: "All the usual contemporary justifications for the teaching about religions in schools ... logically also apply to the teaching of humanism.

"The High Court ruling in this matter has implications for the school curriculum at all ages and further guidance is urgently needed to bring practice into line with the law."