Accord calls for Religious Education to remain a priority in schools

September 22, 2012

The Accord Coalition has urged that the teaching of Religious Education (RE) in schools must not be undermined following the news this week of the Government’s plans for a shakeup of how pupils are assessed at aged 16, with GCSEs to be replaced by a new qualification called the English Baccalaureate Certificate. The English Baccalaureate Certificate is set to first replace GCSEs for English, mathematics, sciences, and later also for history, geography and languages. The Government hopes that these changes will also lead exam boards that offer GSCEs in other subjects to start copying the English Baccalaureate Certificate model.

Chair of the Accord Coalition, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, said ‘Accord will follow changes to the curriculum very closely, as it remains to be seen what impact the proposed English Baccalaureate Certificate will have for subjects not identified as core subjects by the Government. This includes subjects like Religious Education, as well as the teaching of subjects that do not lead to a qualification, such as Citizenship and Personal, Social, Health, Economic education. Schools can make an enormous contribution towards promoting the growth of mutual understanding, and preparing pupils for adult life in our increasingly diverse society, and it is vital that this potential is not overlooked or marginalised by Government.’

In late 2010 the Government introduced a new performance indicator called the similarly named, English Baccalaureate, which focused on how schools performed in the provision of mathematics, sciences, foreign languages and history or geography. As schools put more focus on these subjects, the English Baccalaureate was accused of leading to a poorer provision in subjects that were not included, such as RE. 

The NASUWT’s ‘English Baccalaureate Survey Summary’, released in June 2011, surveyed over 2,400 NASUWT members working in the secondary sector in England, to assess their early experiences of the impact of the English Baccalaureate performance indicator. It indicated that 10% of schools had reported a decline in their planned provision of RE since the English Baccalaureate was introduced, and found that a quarter of all academies and community schools did not provide statutory RE for their 14 – 16 year old pupils.

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