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Lincs authority lets schools decide on Pagan lessons

Witch is nice

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If you’re looking to improve your child's chanting skills or enhance their moon dancing, Lincolnshire may soon be the place to go – as the county decided this week to let individual schools decide on the teaching of pagan doctrine.

At present, some six world religions are studied in that County’s schools.

According to the minutes of a meeting of the Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education (Sacre) the county’s RE advisor fed back the results of her investigation into Paganism.

"It was determined this [paganism] covered a broad range of beliefs and practices," the minutes say. "However, there was no direct guidance about whether it should be included, and it was left to the individual schools to make the decision about whether to include it.

"The RE advisor told the committee she would keep her eye on the situation and report back should there be any developments."

Debbie Barnes, Assistant Director of Children's Services for Lincolnshire County Council, said it would be for individual schools to decide whether or not to teach Paganism.

She said: "Currently the county council's RE curriculum for schools does not include Paganism, which is determined as covering a broad range of beliefs and practices.

"There is no direct guidance about whether it should be included in the school curriculum and it is left to individual schools to make a decision about whether to include it."

This makes 2010 a very good year for UK Paganism, following the recognition of druidry as a religion in Britain for the first time in October, when the Charity Commission accepted it as a faith and gave it the charitable status afforded to other religious groups.

Critics – who have been slow off the mark so far on this issue – may also be relieved to learn that modern pagans, unlike ancient druids, are more concerned with focussing personal energies through ritual than human sacrifice. Then again, that allegation was laid by the Romans, who also accused early Christians of eating babies.

We asked the GTCE if it had a view on the subject, given that at least one teacher was reported to have been suspended from their duties in Essex last year for their involvement in paganism. Could we now be about to see the whole of Lincolnshire "excommunicated" from teaching?

A spokesman told us: "[The GTCE] does not take a view on the question of a school or local authority taking a decision to teach about paganism, or other matters of curriculum. As a regulatory body, we cannot regulate against the beliefs of professionals, only their actions and conduct.

"The GTC’s founding legislation requires the Council to consider cases of alleged unacceptable professional conduct, serious professional incompetence and relevant criminal convictions." ®

Bootnote

For those who failed to celebrate the witches’ new year during Samhain (31 October or 1 November according to taste), have no fear: the Sabbat of Yule will soon be upon us (21 December). A good time to hold a Goddess ritual or welcome back the sun!

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