RE lessons at risk, say faith leaders

RE teachers say that religious education is being squeezed out of the school curriculum RE teachers say that religious education is being squeezed out of the school curriculum

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Religious education in schools is under threat, faith leaders have warned.

Leaders representing Christians, Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists said they were "gravely concerned" about the "negative impact" that current government policies were having.

In a letter to the Daily Telegraph they called for RE to be included in the new English Baccalaureate.

The Department for Education (DfE) said the English Baccalaureate "does not stop any school offering RE GCSEs".

In the letter published in the Telegraph, faith leaders warned that a failure to act would be a "serious flaw" in David Cameron's Big Society project.

The signatories included the Rev Michael Heaney, president of Churches Together in England, and Farooq Murad, secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain.

Undermining RE

They write: "Changes to the role and capacity of local authorities, coupled with the extension of the academies programme, are in danger of undermining the nature and quality of RE."

"Also, recent policy initiatives in relation to GCSE examinations are already leading to a deterioration in the provision for RE in many secondary schools."

RE teachers recently warned that religious education could disappear from many secondary schools because of the new English Baccalaureate.

A DfE spokesman said it is compulsory for every student to study RE up to 16, adding that success in RE GCSE "continues to be recognised in the annual GCSE tables, as well as being a valuable qualification in its own right".

He said: "The English Baccalaureate does not stop any school offering RE GCSEs and we have been clear that pupils should take the GCSEs that are right for them.

Big society

"It is for teachers and parents to help pupils make the right choice. All academies and free schools must offer a broad and balanced curriculum."

The "Bacc", which was introduced last December, is a new league table measure which ranks schools according to how many pupils gain grades A*-C in GCSEs in five subject areas: English, maths, a language, science and either geography or history.

A recent survey by the National Association of Teachers of Religious Education (NATRE) found that a quarter of the state-funded schools featured in its research were not teaching RE to pupils aged from 14 to 16.

The faith leaders called on the prime minister to do more to develop "a clear strategy" for the subject.

"Failure to work with faith communities, along with their partner academic and professional associations, would represent a serious flaw in the Big Society project," they write.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 139.

    Perhaps the principles and practices of the UK's top 10-or-so faiths and non-faiths could be examined within the context of a broader course, say, "Society, Ethics, Culture and Critical Thinking" (SECCT). This might prove a more productive preparation for the realities of modern adult life than traditional RE.

  • rate this

    Comment number 127.

    RE in schools is in many ways used to indoctrinate children and keeping it part of a childs education is wrong and should be completely removed from uk schools as a compulsory subject and be made voluntry if an individual or a child parents wants the to be tought RE.

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    As a atheist and strange as it may seem I think RE is important and should be taught in schools. The only caveate would be that all religions and all the destructive histories of religion should also be taught.

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    In a society which embraces so many beliefs, Religious Education is vital to ease the cohesion of often fragmented communites in inner-city areas.
    And what other subjects teach you purely about other cultures and beliefs? R.E was an eye-opener at school for me, and I studied theology at A-level. It made be a far more well-rounded person, even though I'm a staunch atheist.

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    I question the merits of RE class. What we need is Bible class for at least an hour a day in all schools, public and private.

    This will not only open young minds to the existence of a creator of the universe, but it will instil and present them with objective moral standards and guidance which the culture sorely needs.

    Also the secular media promotion of sex and violence needs to be addressed.


Comments 5 of 13


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