A quarter of schools are snubbing RE duty

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Image: iStock

One in four secondary schools are struggling to meet their legal obligation to teach older pupils about major religions and systems of belief, it has been claimed.

An analysis of the School Workforce Census by the Religious Education Council (REC) and the National Association of Teachers of RE (NATRE) found that 787 schools (or 28 per cent) of all the 2,793 Census schools said they gave no time to RE in year 11.

Furthermore, a separate survey of 790 secondary schools revealed that a quarter do not provide a weekly RE lesson to pupils. In academy and free schools this figure rises to 34 per cent for 11 to 13-year-olds and 44 per cent for 14 to 16-year-olds.

All state-funded schools, including academies and free schools, are legally required by the 1998 School Standards and Framework Act to provide RE.

The REC and NATRE have this week published a “state of the nation report” raising concerns about their findings.

Other findings from the survey of schools include that RE also receives the lowest level of teaching time in academies and free schools, with a majority (56 per cent) dedicating less than three per cent of their timetables (around 40 minutes) to the subject.

Chief executive of the REC Rudolf Eliott Lockhart said encouraging young people to be “religiously literate” was crucial at a time when society is becoming multicultural and when we face religious extremism.

He continued: “RE knowledge is vital in ensuring all school-leavers go into the world of work and beyond, understanding the differences, identifying distortions and being part of the broader change needed to ensure communities are cohesive and well-integrated for future generations.”

NATRE research officer, Deborah Weston, added: “By developing knowledge and understanding about different religions and worldviews in the security of a classroom, young people have the opportunity to engage with complex, diverse and constantly evolving subject matter.

“Today, it is important to be religiously literate and to understand and question the accuracy of claims about different religions. RE provides for critical exploration of individual beliefs and values, while opening up the discussion about religion and belief in the communities we live in.”

The REC and NATRE are calling for the government to make “a clear public statement that it is not acceptable for a school to provide no RE”. They also want ministers to review how subject provision is benchmarked.

  • State of the Nation: A report on religious education provision within secondary schools in England, September 2017, REC & NATRE: http://bit.ly/2xefAQm


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