THE importance of teaching religious education in schools was highlighted by St Albans MP Anne Main.

Mrs Main spoke in a packed Westminster debate on the role of the subject within the baccalaureate core subjects.

The new E-bac certificate will be awarded to students who achieve grades A* to C in English, maths, science, a foreign language and humanities, but the humanities subjects will only include geography or history.

Mrs Main said: “I met with Juliette Lyall, a teacher at Cunningham School in St Albans and executive member of NATRE, National Association of Teachers of Religious Education, who drew this to my attention.

“By excluding the religious education option we are effectively downgrading the subject and not recognising its potential to be a rigorous theological and testing subject.

“This is not about religious observance or pushing dogma, RE is already compulsory in schools.

“I hope the Minister will reconsider the baccalaureate topics. As the Archbishop of Westminster has said - ‘religious studies gives young people perhaps their only opportunity to engage seriously not only with the most profound philosophical questions concerning human existence and the nature of reality, but also with the most fundamental ethical dilemmas of our day'.”