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michael gove and religious education

Michael Gove and Religious Education: The Good, Bad and the Ugly

Comments on Michael Gove’s statement in the House of Commons and DfE publication of new arrangements for the national curriculum, GCSEs and school accountability on 7 February 2013 from the Chair of the RE Council

GOOD
  • No EBacc certificates but one qualification (reformed GCSE) for all subjects, so no first and second class qualifications
  • A new broader performance measure for schools (Peformance8) that allows GCSE RS to count towards school performance alongside EBacc subjects; this is good news for schools with successful GCSE provision
  • RE was reaffirmed in the new National Curriculum documentation – “all state schools … must teach RE to pupils at every key stage”
  • Not mentioned on 7 February but RE now included in Specialist Leader in Education programme by National College of School Leadership
BAD
  • The EBacc still exists and still excludes GCSE RS as a humanity option, despite the recent addition of Computer Science to the science suite
  • The EBacc headline measure for school performance remains in place, implying second-class academic status to GCSE RS (and other subjects)
  • Position of GCSE RS is still precarious and depends on how Performance8 subjects will be determined; RS may lie only in an overcrowded option position, competing with provision for both EBacc and non-EBacc subjects
  • The GCSE Short Course RS will not count towards school performance and its future is very uncertain – no indication of how statutory RE in Key Stage 4 can be accredited
  • Not mentioned on 7 February but teacher training for RE remains in a dire state with the removal of bursaries for RE PGCE trainees (unlike nearly every other subject) being inequitable and unjustifiable
UGLY
  • Some probably irreversible damage to RE has already happened, with reduced time, staffing and fewer exam entries
  • ‘Bridge too far’ metaphor obscures the minimal change in Gove’s plans; sleight of hand is evident and he will not lose political credibility over any of this
  • Whilst mentioning nearly every other subject, he did not mention RE at all
CONCLUSION
  • RE is not out of the woods yet; or to put it another way, there are stormy times still to come for the good ship RE

John Keast
Chair, RE Council

8 February 2013

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