Hundreds of state schools are killing off religious education (RE) by ignoring their legal obligation to teach the subject, it was claimed Friday.
Since 1944 it has been enshrined in law that all five to 16-year-olds must study the subject at school.
Typically, guidelines state it should comprise at least 5 per cent of their curriculum equivalent to one hour every week and all 14 to 16-year-olds must take at least half a GCSE in religious studies.
But research published on Thursday shows one in four comprehensive and academy schools do not teach religious studies at GSCE.
The findings come as the Government seeks to leave the subject out of the new GCSE performance measure, the English Baccalaureate.
And the Coalition has removed the onus from schools watchdog Ofsted to police take-up of the subject. As a result, schools have less incentive to teach the subject and increasingly think they can get away with breaking the law, it is claimed. And religious experts fear RE is now at serious risk of completely disappearing in many schools.
Ed Pawson, chairman of the National Association of Teachers of Religious Education, said: "There has been a dramatic slump in the take-up of RE in secondary schools. Once it dies out at GCSE level, it will die right across the board.
"Nobody is policing the teaching of RE and the Government offers no incentive for it to be taught. It would be an absolute tragedy if it died out.
"The subject is more relevant today than ever and gives pupils an understanding of their culture and heritage, and the culture of others."
Religious education has been integral to schooling in Britain since the Church of England first provided schools for the masses in 1812.
In 1870, when the State opened schools, it remained a core component. And with the Education Act of 1944 it became law for pupils aged five to 16 to be taught RE.
Initially the law simply required schools to give ‘religious instruction'.
This remained unchanged to 1988 when the Education Reform Act established a mandatory National Curriculum of ten subjects, including RE.
From / Gulf News