Secondary schools will have to offer students alternative tuition if they opt out of religion classes.
Supervised study will no longer be an option under the new arrangements, which take effect will apply to both education & training board (ETB) and community secondary schools immediately.
The Minister says he doesn't want any pupils left sitting at the back of the class or confined to the library.
The Department of Education say "Those who do not want instruction in line with the requirements of any particular religion should be timetabled for alternative tuition throughout the school year rather than supervised study or other activities."
Minister Bruton stated “It is important that ETB and Community Post Primary schools as multi-denominational schools, fully implement this circular as it presents an important opportunity to meet the expectations of parents and students in a changing society. This can only be achieved by consulting with parents, and including their wishes as part of the normal planning process of any school’.