The following statement was issued jointly today by the Religious Education Council and the National Association of Teachers of RE regarding GCSE and A Level reform:

The Religious Education Council (REC) is delighted that the Department for Education has accepted the case for the reform of GCSE and A level examinations in the subject on the same time scale as EBacc subjects such as history and geography, with first teaching from 2016. One of the recommendations of the REC Review (2013) was to “promote coherence and progression between 4-14 programmes of study and 14-19 public examinations” and this reform is an ideal opportunity to work towards that aim.

REC Qualifications Committee chair Deborah Weston said,

“GCSE examinations in RS are taken by around 450,000 candidates each year, having become rapidly more popular in recent years. GCE A level RS is a valued academic qualification which has been described by the Russell Group as a good preparation for university generally. This decision amplifies the signal that the government recognises the importance of religious education alongside the EBacc group of subjects. This is to be welcomed.”

The REC will lead this process in partnership with the awarding organisations and the Department for Education. The REC Qualifications Committee brings together a strong team of stakeholders representing member organisations for advisers, teachers, higher education and SACREs. They are supported by a reference group of representatives from organisations and communities of religion and belief.

NATRE chair Ed Pawson welcomed the announcement that GCSE exams in RS are being reviewed in line with the other EBacc subjects. He adds:

“RE teachers have been pressing for more than 3 years for parity between different GCSE subjects and this is a vindication of our campaign. GCSE RS is recognised to be an academically challenging subject, with more students sitting a Full GCSE in RS in 2013 than in either history or geography, so it is welcome news that it can continue to stand alongside other humanities subjects in the secondary school curriculum”.