Press Release #4
Tue, 2nd Sept 2013
FATHER FINALLY WINS RIGHT FOR STUDENTS TO TAKE ALTERNATIVE GSCE TO R.E.
Following discussions between our Secretary Dave Gibbins and the Dept of Education we are happy to confirm that arrangements have been made for pupils who opt out of Religious Education to take an alternative GCSE class, namely General Studies.
Section 44 (4) of the Education and Training Act allows the parent or guardian of any pupil in attendance at any Government school to request in writing that such pupil be excused from attendance at religious worship or religious instruction at the school or from both. While Govt is obliged by law to make R.E. available, pupils are not required to take it.
Up until now any pupil not taking R.E. for reasons of conscience were not offered an alternative GSCE Subject. This has now changed and those pupils will now be able to take General Studies at GCSE Level. This is great news for the pupils concerned and we are grateful to the Dept of Education for their work on this matter.
Some months ago we made a Press Release reference this issue only for the DoE to respond that nothing had changed and that they were simply looking into the matter, despite the prior assurances we had from them that arrangements were in hand. Now however we are assured that full arrangements have been made.
Seeing as the school term is due to start in a few weeks now is the time for those parents who wish their children to opt out of R.E. to write to the schools. On our website we have details of how this can be done with template letters to assist; http://www.shsgib.org/shsgib/index.php/optoutforms
If your child is not religious or has no interest in the subject and wishes to do something else now is the time to act.
The SHSG supports freedom of religion, but also freedom from religion. Section 9 (2) of the Gibraltar Constitution Order 2006 states; “Except with his own consent (or, if he is a minor as prescribed by law, with the consent of his guardian), no person attending any place of education shall be required to receive religious instruction or to take part in or attend any religious ceremony or observance if that instruction, ceremony or observance relates to a religion that he does not profess.”
We feel it is important for people to be aware that R.E. is not defined as a “core subject” under the EDUCATION (NATIONAL CURRICULUM) REGULATIONS, 1991 as has been claimed and that opting out is a simple process.