UK schools are accused of shirking their duty to teach RE

UK schools are accused of shirking their duty to teach RE August 17, 2019
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FORMER  RE teacher Ed Pawson, above, now Education Officer for the Diocese of Exeter, is lamenting the fact that fewer students are choosing to study religious education at A-level.

Commenting on new figures that reveal a two-year drop of 28.9 percent of students choosing the subject, Pawson noted:

Data shows a third of schools are not teaching RE properly.

He wants more pressure to be put on education watchdog Ofted to:

Take more notice when they inspect schools as to whether schools are teaching good RE or not and whether all people are getting their entitlements to religious education up until aged 16.

It is a legal requirement for children up until 16 to be taught RE.

Pawson claims that the reduction is “surprising” given that Religious Studies at A-level continues to be a favourable gateway to university and jobs.

We want more graduates, we want more RE students to produce more graduates, we want more people studying theology, philosophy, religious studies, biblical studies at degree level, because this is our pool for future teachers.

It’s also important for a society that’s more religiously literate, that actually understands and is able to talk about religion and politics, which are the subjects that perhaps we were told we shouldn’t go anywhere near when we were younger. I think that’s a very bad piece of advice, actually.

There are so many competing issues in the curriculum, that I don’t blame headteachers for having to make hard choices. However, the legal duty is that every child should know about religion and belief and issues about worldviews and ethics and philosophy.

It is a valuable subject which really makes young people think carefully about their lives about the position, the place we have in the world. Why we’re here, what we’re here for, and about the significance and spiritual significance of human beings on this planet.

Writing for Christian site Premiere, Ruth Sax said:

The figures are an indication that religious education remains vulnerable and teachers are calling the Government to engage further with the recent recommendations for change from the Commission on Religious Education.

The Commission published its final report in 2018 making recommendations for changes that have so far only been partially taken up by the Government.

Image via JesusandMo.Net
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  • Duncan R. Bryson

    They still think exposure to religion will pull young people into the tribe. As usual, making assumptions and drawing conclusions rather than taking to people.

  • Broga

    When I was in my final year at Grammar School I won the Divinity Prize on the subject, “Compare, contrast and discuss the Synoptic Gospels.” Whoever set that subject must have been a mischievous atheist or ignorant of what he was setting. I was already well on the way to atheism but that exercise exposed the contradictions and other flaws of the “word of God and biblical truth” to an extent I could scarcely believe.

    Do they really want to push religious teaching? Or just a very selective and dishonest version?

  • persephone

    They never consider the number of people who take required classes that come out hating the subject. They played themselves.

  • Ann Kah

    He refers to it as an “entitlement”. It looks like 28% fewer kids think of it that way. The good news is that THEY will be the teachers of the future.

  • Matt G

    They call that an own goal. Like Asimov’s famous quote:
    “Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.”

  • Asimov was one of the greats.

  • It worked for him, so it should work for everyone. Yeah, right.

    The harder they push RE, the more atheists, pagans, witches, druids, etc. that they make.

  • Michael Newsham

    “We want more graduates, we want more RE students to produce more graduates, we want more people studying theology, philosophy, religious studies, biblical studies at degree level, because this is our pool for future teachers.”
    He means “We can’t recruit enough people by ourselves. so we want the government to do it for us,”

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    The complainers don’t want *comparative* religions..they want *indoctrinated* religion…but are too craven to say that out loud, because they KNOW what the backlash would be.

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    What’s this ‘we’ he speaks of? To quote a humorist: “Is he royalty or does he have a tapeworm?!”

  • Har Davids

    Synoptic Gospels? I’m glad I was never exposed to that level of religiosity, with my parents being very lackadaisical RC. On the other hand: no Divinity Prize for me.

  • rubaxter
  • rubaxter

    Just wondering, how many children/grandchildren of the head of the COE were feckless motivated enough to do A-Levels in Religious Studies, or the prerequisite field to be ‘religious educators’?

    You’d think with an ‘in’ like that it’d be a stampede? You’d think preservation of The Family would also take hold.

  • Raymond Metcalfe

    The church of England is in panic mode as the numbers fall and fall with very few young people showing anyn interest at there power and influence will wain and that is what worries them the most not lost souls like us lot but a reduction in power and influence and having there brand of bs taught in schools is a sign of the power they hold

  • Geordon VanTassle

    No, you have the right of it, at least where the USA is concerned. Just about any time someone talks about Religious Studies” they are actually talking about Protestant Christian Studies, not even Judaeo-Christian Studies, let alone something like actual comparative religious studies, whcih I would fully be behind.