Comment from John Keast, Chair, Religious Education Council of England and Wales (REC) on schools continuing to flout Religious Education laws
“RE is falling through the cracks as state schools shrug their legal responsibility to teach RE to all our young people.
Teenagers need to leave school well informed about the range of beliefs and values in our society to help them develop respect for the views of others. RE is the only subject to focus specifically on this. I have no doubt that many schools want to teach RE well and consider it to be an important aspect of the curriculum they offer.
Through our own RE Review, the Religious Education Council has put in place new guidelines to help schools define what RE they teach and at what stage, to help them better meet their legal obligations.
Critics claim it is indoctrination to talk about religion and belief in the classroom, yet good RE does not do this. Yes, it teaches about religion and belief, including attitudes to life and death, relationships and behaviour, rights and responsibilities, but it helps young people acquire the skills to understand and evaluate these, by looking at sources of wisdom and authority. What is truly awkward is when teachers are expected to tackle these issues without adequate training, support or even, as shown in this study, sufficient time to teach a GCSE.
Schools are not getting the support to teach consistently high quality RE. This needs to be resolved as a priority by all those with responsibility for the school curriculum, or else we will see the provision and quality of RE decline further.”
Established in 1973, the Religious Education Council of England and Wales (REC) brings together over 60 national organisations. These comprise academic and professional associations specialising in religions and religious education, as well as individual religion and belief organisations inclusive of the range of faith communities found nationally, including the British Humanist Association.
ReThinkRE Campaign website: www.rethinkre.org
Published on 23rd October 2013, a national curriculum framework for RE sets out the purpose and aims of RE; the contribution of RE to the school curriculum; and the breadth of study of RE. Guidance is included for early years; the knowledge, understanding and skills for key stages 1-3; and an overview for key stage 4 and 16-19.