Speaking about national model syllabuses for Religious Education, Mr Patten said: 'The preparation of local syllabuses is not an easy task, but a vital one. It is crucial that this debate keeps moving forward to questions on the detail of the curriculum, on the best way to combine educational rigour with the necessary freedom for spiritual enquiry.
'We must avoid drifting into wishy-washy consideration of hazy moral questions, diluting many faiths into some indeterminate solution, or sentimental quasi-religious treatment of 'social problems' or 'causes' in which God barely features. Nor should we, at the other extreme, teach religious facts with no exploration of their spiritual significance.
'Parents have an important part to play in encouraging their children to explore the spiritual aspect of their personality but schools can also provide all their pupils with a forum in which this is possible.'
The Secretary of State was speaking to the Christianity in Today's World Prizegiving at House of Commons.
In his speech he said he had asked the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority (SCAA) to work on the development of model RE syllabuses, on which the Schools Curriculum and Assessment Authority will consult early next year. 'The 1988 Act states that the content of religious education should reflect the mainly Christian traditions of this country, whilst taking account of the other principal religions represented.
'SCAA is working very closely with representatives of Christian denominations, and different faith communities in developing the content of the syllabuses. They are also talking to teachers, to ensure that the models are manageable, and build on good educational practice. SCAA should be in a position to launch the consultation early in the New Year, and I have asked them to publish the models by early summer 1994'.