New teachers survey reveals weakened position of RE in schools

November 29, 2013

A survey released yesterday by the National Association of Teachers of Religious Education (NATRE) has confirmed the declining provision of Religious Education (RE) in English schools. The survey follows on from a similar one carried out by NATRE in September 2012, which indicated that many schools were reducing their provision of RE in response to the subject not being included in the government’s English Baccalaureate performance indicator, introduced in 2010. The new survey also paints a gloomy picture, suggesting that:

–          26% of schools do not provide RE at Key Stage Four (ages 14 to 16) and 12% do not provide RE to all students at Key Stage Three (ages 11 to 14)
–         teaching time allotted for RE is being further reduced, while RE GCSE is being increasingly taught over three years, rather than two
–          20% of schools have made a cut to their RE specialist teaching staff

The latest survey comes after the publication last month of Ofsted’s triennial report on RE, which found that RE was suffering from low standards, weak teaching, gaps in teacher training and reduced support by local authorities. Among Ofsted’s recommendations included that the Department for Education should review RE’s statutory arrangements.

Chair of the Accord Coalition, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain said, ‘NATRE’s survey provides yet further evidence as to the declining status of RE in schools and confirms the government’s belief that the place of RE in the curriculum is secure because of legal requirements that state funded schools must teach it, is misplaced. The subject needs to change from being the jilted subject of the school curriculum, and be recognised for its importance as a matter of general knowledge and as an aid to social-cohesion.

‘An important way this can be guaranteed is for the subject’s statuary basis to be reconsidered and for the government to add RE to the National Curriculum. This would ensure that all state funded schools provide pupils with a core entitlement to a board and balanced education about the range of beliefs in society.’

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