Mr Patten said: 'Pupils should have the best possible opportunity not only for mental and physical development, but for spiritual, moral and cultural development at school as well. Religious education and collective worship make a vital contribution to that development.
'This guidance will help school governors, head teachers and local education authorities to comply with the law and ensure that the quality of religious education and collective worship is significantly improved.'
The circular explains the new measures in the Education Act 1993 designed to give further impetus to the development of RE in schools; recognises the autonomy of grant-maintained schools; brings up to date and replaces all existing guidance on the statutory provisions for RE and collective worship.
The draft guidance sets out what syllabuses must do to comply with the law. Consultation on these syllabuses will take place early in the New Year.
The DFE has also asked for comments on draft statutory regulations which, for the first time, will require meetings of all local authority RE bodies to be open to the public.
Copies of the draft circular have been circulated widely to LEAs, SACREs, teacher unions, church and religious bodies and to grant-maintained schools. Further copies are available from DFE Publications Centre, PO Box 2193, London E15 2EU (Tel: 081 533 2000).
Comments on the draft circular must be sent, by 3 December 1993, to Mr Philip Parker, Department for Education, Sanctuary Buildings, Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3BT, and on the Regulations to Ms Judi Leighton, at the DFE, by the same deadline.