Pupils are to study two religions as part of the government's proposals for a more academically rigorous religious studies (RS) GCSE.
The new GCSE is designed to increase pupils' knowledge of other faiths, giving them the opportunity to study the beliefs, teachings and sources of wisdom of at least two religions for the first half of their course.
According to the Department for Education (DfE), the broader and more demanding qualification will ensure youngsters become acquainted with fundamental British values such as respect and tolerance for those of different faiths and none. It will not, however, affect the emphasis faith schools put on their individual teachings.
Youngsters will be able to conduct their studies in one or two of the following ways: by thoroughly analysing their religious texts; by studying their practices, ways of life and forms of expression in detail; or by investigating the impact of one or two of the religions' teachings on ethical or philosophical issues.
Pupils will be given the option of devoting equal amounts of time to the study of the two religions or spending 75 per cent of their time on one of them.
Education secretary Nicky Morgan said: "It is of paramount importance that young people understand the central importance of religion in Britain's cultural heritage and high-quality religious education in schools is key to achieving that.
"By ensuring that young people learn about more than just one religion, this new GCSE will better prepare students for life in modern Britain."
Representatives and experts from all of the major faith groups have worked with the DfE on the new course and they have given their approval to its content.
A consultation on the GCSE has been published and the DfE is keen to hear further views from all stakeholders. It will run until December 29th.
Posted by Harriet McGowan