A poll (https://tinyurl.com/y5k6cfhq) for the National Association of Teachers of Religious Education (NATRE) has found that nearly a third of religious education teachers say they are aware of pupils being pulled out of lessons by their parents for a variety of reasons, based not only on religious objections but for other reasons such as to allow them to study another subject.
All schools in England are required to teach religious education (RE). Maintained schools are obliged by statute (section 71 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998) and although academies and free schools do not have to follow the National Curriculum, they are obliged to teach RE under the terms of their funding agreements with the Secretary of State. Parents have the right to withdraw their child for all, or part, of RE lessons and pupils can choose to withdraw themselves once they are 18.
Schools continue to be responsible for the supervision of any child withdrawn by their parent/s from RE. Schools can emphasise the importance of pupils learning about different faiths and cultures to encourage tolerance and respect of differing views, and to encourage attendance, but, ultimately, parental reasons for withdrawal are irrelevant; schools must comply with any request to withdraw.