‘Bac’ to the future for better education

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EDITOR – Standing in front of the intricate and impressive facade of Lincoln Cathedral, one is amazed by the fantastic undertakings our ancestors and predecessors carried out under the influence of their deep and penetrating faith.

We are lucky here in Lincolnshire to have a number of Church of England and other religious schools which educate the young in a spiritually-enriching environment.

Furthermore, all schools – not just church ones – are required to offer an appropriate study of religious education to their pupils according to the Education Act of 1996 (which also, fittingly, grants parents the right to withdraw their children from such classes if they so wish).

I think religious education is a vital part in creating well-rounded individuals.

Recently, Education Secretary Michael Gove created the English Baccalaureate as a move to improve standards and emphasise core academic learning areas in order to prepare pupils for potential future studies at university.

The English ‘bac’ is a most welcome move and undoubtedly a step in the right direction, but it’s unfortunate that religious education isn’t among the subjects which count towards the ‘bac’ (those subjects are English, history or geography, the sciences, and a language).

I have written to the Secretary of State for Education in an attempt to impress upon him the importance of religious education in our schools and the hope that R.E. will eventually be included in the subjects counting towards the English baccalaureate.

Like most of you, I’m grateful to live in a place and time that is open and welcoming to people of so many different backgrounds, creeds, and beliefs.

But I’m also certain we need to learn how to better balance that openness with a deep and firm appreciation of our own culture and, importantly, the religious framework that has such a great impact on our history and our society.

It would be a great shame if, some day in the future, the people of England might stand before Lincoln Cathedral and have no idea what could have inspired those people long ago to build such magnificent work of art, architecture, and engineering.

This constituency is home to so many different kinds of businesses of every shape, size, and variety.

I was happy to learn that Lincolnshire County Council has given its approval to the expansion of the ECO Plastics processing centre based near Hemswell.

ECO Plastics is the largest plastic bottle recycler in all of Europe, and the firm employs a few dozen locals at the local plant.

This Europe-wide entity is expanding its Lincolnshire operations in partnership with Coca-Cola Enterprises, perhaps the best-known brand throughout the entire world.

We all know how important business and enterprise are to keeping the country’s books balanced. The tax revenue collected from companies helps to ensure the Government has enough money to keep funding the schools, hospitals and vital services we depend on every day.

It’s reassuring to know that we here in Lincolnshire are part of the vast network of global trade, and through it connected to people all over the world.

EDWARD LEIGH

MP for Gainsborough