Professor Robert Jackson from the University of Warwick expressed concerns at a conference this week that cuts and policy changes by the government had marginalised Religious Education in schools.
Professor Jackson, from the University of Warwick’s Religions and Education Research Unit, outlined the impact of government policy at the ‘Religion in Education: Findings from the Religion and Society Programme’ event being held at the University.
He stated the Academies Act 2010 allowed schools to leave local authority control with no requirement to teach religious education.
Professor Jackson also said that Religious Education had not been included as a ‘recognised’ humanities subject in the recently launched English Baccalaureate (EBacc). The EBacc measures the proportion of pupils who have good GCSE passes in English, Maths, Sciences, Humanities and a modern foreign language. According to a survey in May 2011 by the National Association of Teachers of Religious Education (NATRE), over 50% of schools with fallen GCSE entry levels for Religious Education blamed the impact of the new EBacc.
Professor Jackson added: “The NATRE survey revealed legal provision for religious education is not being met at key stage 4 in around 25% of schools. Also around 30% of schools reported reductions in 2011-12 in specialist religious education staff.
“The research reported at this conference, together with the policy recommendations of the Foreign Ministers of the Council of Europe, show the need for investment in religious education by consolidating its place in all types of school and by resourcing the initial and in-service training of teachers. This is especially so against the background of the tragedy in Norway, which points dramatically to the need for understanding of religious diversity within our societies and promoting dialogue between young people of different religious and philosophical backgrounds.”
Notes to editors
To contact Professor Jackson, call Kelly Parkes-Harrison, Press and Communications Manager, University of Warwick, 02476 150868, 07824 540863, firstname.lastname@example.org