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Require Sikhism to be taught in UK schools from Reception upwards

Submitted by Gurleen Alg on Friday 10th September 2021

Published on Thursday 16th September 2021

Current status: Open

Open until: Wednesday 16th March 2022

Current Signatures: 10,464
(count is updated approximately hourly)

Relevant Departments

Tagged with

Children ~ Grown ~ Hindu ~ Islam ~ Kara ~ National Curriculum ~ Prevent ~ Reception ~ Respect ~ Schools ~ Sikh ~ teaching ~ The National ~ Up

Petition Action

Require Sikhism to be taught in UK schools from Reception upwards

Petition Details

I would like Sikhism (the Sikh religion) to be included in the national curriculum from KS1 on. Many Sikhs in the UK have either grown up/seen their children/grandkids being bullied, just for following their religion & wearing a patka/turban & often continues into their adult life.

Additional Information

If the religion was introduced earlier explaining what is now referred to as 'top knot' & why Sikhs have long hair, wear a kara(religious bangle),maybe other kids would be kinder/more accepting, because they recognise it, as they do say a burka from Islam or kippah from Judaism. This may prevent Sikhs being confused with Hindus or Muslims (2 faiths that are perhaps taught about more). It would educate children about Sikh Festivals, which are often confused with Hindu ones. Teaching kids young, help them respect all!


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Government Response

The Government responded to this petition on Wednesday 1st December 2021

Religious education is compulsory to age 18 and is expected to take account of the teaching and practices of the principal religions represented in Great Britain, including Sikhism.

One of the very foundations of Sikhism – the importance of every day moral conduct and to be kind to others – is something that everyone should strive for, it is sad to hear that any person should feel like their own values and beliefs are not respected.

Religious education (RE) is taught as part of the basic curriculum rather than the national curriculum. The teaching of RE is compulsory from Key Stage 1, starting age 5, and continues up to age 18 in all state-funded schools in England (education is a devolved matter, so devolved administrations make their own decisions on it).

Teaching about the Sikh faith is already expected to be part of the RE curriculum, which must take account of the teaching and practices of the principal religions represented in Great Britain. There are therefore no plans to include Sikhism in the national curriculum.

The government firmly believes in the importance of RE which can develop children’s knowledge of the values and traditions of Great Britain and other countries, and foster understanding among different faiths and cultures. It is also important in enabling schools to meet their legal duty to promote young people’s spiritual, moral and cultural development.

Furthermore, religious literacy is integral to building an understanding of different beliefs within the country. All schools are legally required to have a behaviour policy with measures to prevent all forms of bullying. They have the freedom to develop their own anti-bullying strategies appropriate to their environment and are held to account by Ofsted. The Department provides advice for schools in preventing and tackling bullying (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/preventing-and-tackling-bullying) which makes clear that schools should make appropriate provision for a bullied child's social, emotional, and mental health needs.

On 16 November 2021, the Department announced funding for five leading organisations, worth over £1 million in total, to support schools and colleges in championing tolerance and respect as part of their responsibility to tackle all forms of bullying. Between 2016-2020, we provided over £3.5 million of funding through our anti-bullying programme to support schools in their effort to tackle bullying.

A school’s RE syllabus is determined locally, either through a funding agreement (for academies) or an Agreed Syllabus Conference (for local authority maintained schools), the Department for Education does not specify what an RE curriculum should consist of, how it should be taught or how many hours it should be taught for. Schools must ensure that the teaching and practices of the principal religions represented in Great Britain, including Sikhism, are taken into account as part of their RE curriculum.

Additionally, schools have the freedom to include content about the teaching of specific faiths as part of their teaching of wider national curriculum, such as history or citizenship, but this would need to be in line with the purpose and aims of each subject.

Relationships education became a statutory subject for the first time in all schools in September 2020, and includes, from primary, the importance of pupils respecting others, even those who are very different from them, or make different choices or have different preferences or beliefs. Secondary content on respectful relationships includes the importance of tolerance of other beliefs.

We have also published, Respectful School Communities (https://educateagainsthate.com/school-leaders/?filter=guidance-and-training-school-leaders), a self-review and signposting tool to support schools to develop a whole-school approach which promotes respect. This can combat bullying, harassment and prejudice of any kind, including hate-based bullying.

We also expect all schools to promote fundamental British values, and that includes encouraging mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs. The Department has published advice for schools on promoting these values and has also made resources available through the Educate Against Hate website (https://educateagainsthate.com/). This website provides teachers, school leaders and parents with the information, guidance and support they need to challenge radical views, including racist and discriminatory beliefs.

Department for Education

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