The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Religious Education found that the teaching of different beliefs and values was often given to teaching assistants, who receive little support, training or guidance.
A three-month inquiry by the APPG into the supply of and support for RE teachers in schools, including a review of evidence from more than 400 sources, stated that more than half of those teaching RE in secondary schools had no qualification or relevant expertise in the subjects.
The report found that teachers often lacked confidence, particularly in diverse and multi-cultural classrooms. Support for RE teachers at a local level had been hit by cuts to local authority funding because of the academies programme, MPs said. Furthermore bursaries for RE trainees have been cut leading to a big reductions in application for 2013/14.
Stephen Lloyd, chairman of the APPG, said “There are a large number of excellent RE teachers across the country who are doing a first-class job preparing children for the challenges life throws at them. But a range of policies, most notably those relating to the EBacc, academies and GCSE short courses, have served to lower RE’s status on the curriculum.
“It is illogical to think that we can dilute the professionalism and expertise needed to teach RE well and still have a generation of young people that understand and are sensitive to the growing levels of religious and non-religious diversity in our society.”
The inquiry found that the situation has been compounded by insufficient professional development opportunities for subject leaders, specialist teachers and those who take on the responsibility for teaching RE.
Evidence also revealed a wide variation in the amount and quality of initial teacher training for RE, with many trainee teachers stating they had little effective preparation to teach the subject.