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Religious leaders and theologians have condemned the decision to leave religious education off the list of GCSEs that go towards the controversial new English baccalaureate.

The chairman of the Church of England's education board, the Bishop of Oxford, the Right Rev John Pritchard, said that failing to take the study of religion seriously was "highly dangerous" at a time when groups such as the English Defence League (EDL) were staging violent protests against British Muslims.

Annual league tables on schools' performance published last week measured the proportion of pupils obtaining the English bac, which is awarded to teenagers who achieve GCSEs at grade C or above in English, maths, science, a foreign language and a humanities subject (history or geography) – but not in RE.


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