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World News

Church no longer has influence over Highlands curriculum following council vote

by Sophie Drew

Churches in the Scottish Highlands will no longer have a say in what students learn in school, following a council vote.

Until now, representatives from three denominations, including the Catholic Church and the Church in Scotland, could weigh-in on the curriculum via voting rights.

However, councillors have now voted to remove the protocol after some members protested at the influence Christianity has on the local schools.

Non-elected church representatives will still be able to be part of the discussions, but will no longer be allowed to vote on matters pertaining to education.

The cause has been championed by the Green Party following a similar outcome in Orkney earlier this year.

Although the news has pleased the Humanist Society Scotland (HSS), the affected Christian denominations have been left disappointed with the choice.

A spokesperson for the Catholic Church said: "There is no evidence to suggest that having a broad democratic process in Highland Council has been detrimental in any way.

"In other local authorities where similar motions have been raised the councillors took time to consider the implications of the motion, listened to their constituents and voted against it.”

The Church of Scotland has defended itself against claims of “religious dogma” and overt influence, saying their role is merely to offer “support and encouragement” as “community partners”.

In 2016, HSS called for children over the age of 16 to be allowed to opt out of religious observance in Scottish schools, without parental permission – a decision that had already been made by leaders in England and Wales.

Religious Observance is defined as: "Community acts which aim to promote the spiritual development of all members of the school's community and express and celebrate the shared values of the school community".

Premier has reached out to the Humanist Society Scotland for a response.

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