NATRE’s fifth survey on the impact of the English Baccalaureate on religious education in secondary schools is published today and reveals that a third of community schools and over a third of academies without a religious character are still failing to meet their legal or contractual obligations to provide religious education.
RE Council chair, John Keast commented:
“RE is falling through the cracks as state schools shrug their legal responsibility to teach RE to all our young people.
Teenagers need to leave school well informed about the range of beliefs and values in our society to help them develop respect for the views of others. RE is the only subject to focus specifically on this. I have no doubt that many schools want to teach RE well and consider it to be an important aspect of the curriculum they offer.
Through our own RE Review, the Religious Education Council has put in place new guidelines to help schools define what RE they teach and at what stage, to help them better meet their legal obligations.
Critics claim it is indoctrination to talk about religion and belief in the classroom, yet good RE does not do this. Yes, it teaches about religion and belief, including attitudes to life and death, relationships and behaviour, rights and responsibilities, , but it helps young people acquire the skills to understand and evaluate these, by looking at sources of wisdom and authority. What is truly awkward is when teachers are expected to tackle these issues without adequate training, support or even, as shown in this study, sufficient time to teach a GCSE.
Schools are not getting the support to teach consistently high quality RE. This needs to be resolved as a priority by all those with responsibility for the school curriculum, or else we will see the provision and quality of RE decline further.”
Read the full survey.