Comments on Michael Gove’s statement in the House of Commons and DfE publication of new arrangements for the national curriculum, GCSEs and school accountability on 7 February 2013 from the Chair of the RE Council

  • No EBacc certificates but one qualification (reformed GCSE) for all subjects, so no first and second class qualifications
  • A new broader performance measure for schools (Peformance8) that allows GCSE RS to count towards school performance alongside EBacc subjects; this is good news for schools with successful GCSE provision
  • RE was reaffirmed in the new National Curriculum documentation – “all state schools … must teach RE to pupils at every key stage”
  • Not mentioned on 7 February but RE now included in Specialist Leader in Education programme by National College of School Leadership
  • The EBacc still exists and still excludes GCSE RS as a humanity option, despite the recent addition of Computer Science to the science suite
  • The EBacc headline measure for school performance remains in place, implying second-class academic status to GCSE RS (and other subjects)
  • Position of GCSE RS is still precarious and depends on how Performance8 subjects will be determined; RS may lie only in an overcrowded option position, competing with provision for both EBacc and non-EBacc subjects
  • The GCSE Short Course RS will not count towards school performance and its future is very uncertain – no indication of how statutory RE in Key Stage 4 can be accredited
  • Not mentioned on 7 February but teacher training for RE remains in a dire state with the removal of bursaries for RE PGCE trainees (unlike nearly every other subject) being inequitable and unjustifiable
  • Some probably irreversible damage to RE has already happened, with reduced time, staffing and fewer exam entries
  • ‘Bridge too far’ metaphor obscures the minimal change in Gove’s plans; sleight of hand is evident and he will not lose political credibility over any of this
  • Whilst mentioning nearly every other subject, he did not mention RE at all
  • RE is not out of the woods yet; or to put it another way, there are stormy times still to come for the good ship RE

John Keast
Chair, RE Council

8 February 2013