Committee Wants Wider Representation Of Islanders’ Beliefs

The Five Islands School

The Five Islands School

The Council committee that looks after religious education on the islands wants more representation from Buddhists and Quakers.

That’s because RE is the only subject to fall under the responsibility of Children’s Services, rather than the National Curriculum.

At their meeting yesterday, members of the committee discussed how they could more closely represent the spiritual makeup of islanders.

In the last census, nine people identified themselves as Buddhist, the largest non-Christian religious group.

34% of islanders said they had ‘no religion’ and fourteen said they were ‘Jedi Knights’, after the philosophy created in the Star Wars films.

Scilly has the second highest proportion in the UK, prompting meeting secretary Andy Thomas to say, “The Force is obviously strong here.”

Five Islands School teacher Kevin Leeman felt members of the humanist movement, who look to science, rather than traditional religions, should also be represented.

He said if they’re trying to engage pupils to think about belief systems, they need to include those that don’t have a god.

But he also felt there was a cynical view of religion as something to be mocked and not taken seriously.

Kevin quoted reports from December’s Full Council Meeting, where Cllr Gordon Bilsborough said religion should be “education and not indoctrination.”

Gordon wanted an assurance that pupils would also be taught Darwin’s theory of evolution.

But Kevin said RE is not about trying to make students become religious, but helping them to understand human spirituality.

He said there are still some people who believe the subject is a “closed shop” that just talks about one religion.

The group also felt there should be a Roman Catholic representative, given the numbers who follow the church on the islands.

Keith Grossett, who represents the Council on the school Governing Body, will talk to mainland religious bodies to find the new members to sit on the committee