The criteria of correlation of Statement One

Having explored the nature of Statement One, particularly its origin and programmatic nature, we next need to consider how it compares to other statements within and beyond its domain of discourse.

Correlation between Statement One and its own domain of discourse

The narrative set out in the section above exposes the extent to which the proposal of statutory provision of Religious Instruction, by the time it was included in the 1943 Education Bill, was widely accepted within the BoE. One exemplification of the expansion of this to Parliament more widely is in the response to a letter sent to Butler. On 31 July 1941 Lord Wolmcr sent to Butler a declaration on ‘Christian Education’, reporting that it was the work of a ‘small joint committee of Members of both Houses of Parliament, including members of all political parties’, and that ‘without any canvassing or agitation, some 224 Members of Parliament and Peers have signed it’. The letter urges Butler to ‘take action’.85 Wolmer also sent a copy—with slightly different wording—to the Prime Minister; there he explained that ‘we are not asking for any expression of opinion from your or from the Government ... We are merely sending the declaration to you so that you should be aware of what is in the minds and hearts of many people’.86

This declaration seems to have been overlooked, both in the historical accounts and in the legislative process. Gosden, for example, acknowledges the document’s existence, but devotes only one sentence to it, claiming that it was ‘similar to that of the archbishops’.87 It is hard to assess whether the declaration arose independently of the Archbishops’ Five Points, or was catalysed by that document’s wide circulation. Regardless, the similarities between the two declarations are—contrary to Gosden’s assertion—fairly limited. One key difference is that Wolmer’s declaration explicitly argued for statutory provision to ensure universal provision. It urged that:

The Government take action either by administration or legislation as shall: Make it possible for every school to have upon its staff teachers capable and willing to give instruction in religious knowledge and supervise and lead in religious exercises, securing at the same time that freedom of conscience for teachers, parents and children which is at present their right.88

The Prime Minister’s office passed responsibility to the BoE claiming that the issues were ‘already under careful and sympathetic examination’.89 However, beyond a couple of letters between Butler and Wolmer there is no evidence at all of such examination within the departmental records.90 The lack of consideration may appear curious, but the timing of the Wolmcr

Declaration offers an explanation. By July 1941, the principle of statutory provision was already accepted within the BoE, as demonstrated by its inclusion in the Green Book, in short, Wolmer was pushing at a door that was already open.

This episode offers an example of the close correlation between the discourse of the BoE and Parliament in relation to Statement One.

Correlation between Statement One and other domains of discourse

In terms of comparison with wider domains of discourse, two examples have been selected here (according to the principles set out in Chapter 1). Firstly, we consider the discourse of Religion in Education (established 1934) chosen as the foremost professional journal for those concerned with the teaching of religion in schools at this point.91 Secondly, the national newspaper media, exemplified by The Times, has been chosen as a representative discourse through which many outside the profession would have been informed about religious education.92

Religion in education

The discourse of Religion in Education in the period between its launch (1934) and the introduction of the 1943 Education Bill was characterized by the promotion ‘of dialogue about religion in education’ with campaigns for ‘better staffing, curriculum resources and teacher training’.93 It traced a growing approval for religious education, emanating from both government and other establishment groups, undergirded by a firm commitment to Christianity, particularly ecumenical co-operation between denominational groupings.94 Thus there was a positive reception in 1939 to the Anglican— Free Church Recommendations on Religious Education (mentioned above as a precursor to the Archbishops’ Five Points)?* This, and other articles of the period, supported ‘the vital necessity of securing adequate religious instruction’, arguing that the BoE had not ‘gone so far in stressing the need of good Scripture-teaching in the schools’.96 The same theme pervaded a positive commentary on the publication of the 1938 Spens Report; the focus on quality provision was balanced with a rejection of compulsion to study the subject; this would ‘offend against the cardinal principle of religious freedom’. However, the article supported the Committee’s assertion (mentioned in passing already) that ‘nobody can be counted as properly educated unless he or she has been made aware of the existence of a religious interpretation of life.’97

Here there is support for universal, quality provision of religious teaching together with a hesitancy towards compulsory study. Statutory provision is not mentioned, even when during the early 1940s concern is expressed over the ‘dropping of religious education in these circumstances’ (relating to the effects of both evacuation and school closures).98 Responses to these issues, and to the threat of Totalitarianism, permeate the discourse during 1940 and

1941, with strong arguments for Christianity forming the very basis of the education system." The discourse changes in 1942, as discussions about the Green Book got underway, and support was both reported and voiced for the ‘measures for the improvement of religious instruction and school worship’; the dominant theme becomes whether the new provisions will insist that Christianity is named, and how the demand for teachers for the subject can be met.100

Overall, the discourse of Religion in Education closely mirrors the discourse of Statement One, most specifically mirroring the BoE discourse from the point at which the proposal for statutory provision is articulated in the Green Book.

The Times, 1940 and 1941

Predating the release of both the Archbishops’ Five Points and Wolmer’s declaration, a leader column was published in The Times in January 1941 under the title: Religious Education: The Next Step. The writer, prompted by a ‘recent letter by the Bishop of Worcester’ argued that ‘no scheme of national reconstruction can be adequate which does not include such changes in our system of national education as will make it broadly but definitely Christian in purpose’. The writer compared the Bishop’s letter with an article in that month’s Contemporary Review authored by Revd. Dr. Scott Liggett, a prominent non-conformist and Free Church leader. This claimed that an improvement in the status of religious teaching was urgently required, but also that such a change could be achieved without ‘fresh legislation’, claiming that ‘an administrative order by the President of the Board of Education’ would be sufficient.101

An examination of the original letter, by the Bishop of Worcester and published in the Letters column on the previous Saturday, connected the claim that ‘future generation must be nurtured on Christian principles’ to the wartime evacuation of children from cities to rural areas. The Bishop wrote: ‘It has been one of the startling results of the evacuation of children from our great centres of population that in many instances their gross ignorance of the simplest facts of Christ’s life and work has been laid bare far and wide’.102 This connection between evacuation and ‘gross ignorance’ of Christianity was not new. In a leader in The Times, published eleven months previously (February 1940), the writer reports on the experience of a country Parson in a reception area, where many evacuated children were being settled. Reporting on his work with a ‘class of evacuated children, with an average age of 12’, the Parson reported that

they knew absolutely nothing of the Bible and had never been taught to pray. Unquestionably the religious instruction given in many schools, both elementary and secondary, both provided and non-provided, is quite excellent. Yet this does not alter the grim fact that in a country professedly Christian, and a country which at the moment is staking its all in defence of Christian principles, there is a system of national education which allows the citizens of the future to have a purely heathen upbringing.

The article also claimed:

Yet in some of the schools provided by the State there is no religious teaching. In some of the secondary schools it is supplied for the junior pupils only, and dropped, as a subject comparatively unimportant, when they reach the upper forms. Under the system governing the elementary schools it is treated as a subsidiary subject, to be disposed of in a preliminary half-hour before the real work of the day begins.103

This disclosure perhaps undermines the later rhetorical insistence on the claim of universal provision. Further, the article makes a very clear link between religious teaching and the development of citizenship: ‘Yet the highest educational aim is to produce good citizens. The basis of good citizenship is character, and a man’s character depends upon his beliefs.’104

These examples from both Religion in Education and The Times demonstrate that there was a clear continuity between Statement One and some of the related wider discourses of the time. This suggests that the BoE discourse centred on Statement One was not out of alignment with wider, more public, discourses and that in relation to Religion in Education it was influential in orientating the direction in which that discourse headed.

Subsequent repetitions of Statement One

The subsequent repetition of a statement reveals clues as to its ongoing influence. As noted in Chapter 1, the repetition of statements is ‘part of the process of normalizing the practices they refer to, and help to constitute’. As the basis for the legislative framework which maintains statutory provision of religious teaching, even to the present, Statement One has been repeated continually since the passing of the 1944 Act. Some of these repetitions, including those in later Acts of Parliament (including Education Reform Act, 1988; Education Act, 1996; Schools Standards and Framework Act, 1998) and other legal documents, will be examined in subsequent chapters. It is useful to note here that where legislation is the focus of a Statement Archaeology, the repetition or non-rcpctition of the statement in subsequent legislation is an important ‘tributary’ to explore.

 
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