One in four state schools not teaching RE

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Hundreds of state schools are ignoring their legal obligation to teach religious education, according to new research.

The requirement  to teach RE to all five to 16-year-olds has been enshrined in law since 1944. Typically, guidelines state it should comprise at least 5 per cent of their curriculum – equivalent to one hour every week – and all 14 to 16-year-olds must take at least half a GCSE in religious studies.

But research by the National Association of Teachers of Religious Education shows one in four comprehensive and academy schools do not teach religious studies at GSCE.

And some 31 per cent of grammars are now shirking the obligation.

The findings come as the Government seeks to leave the subject out of the new GCSE performance measure, the English Baccalaureate.
And the Coalition has removed the onus from schools watchdog Ofsted to police take-up of the subject.

As a result, schools have less incentive to teach the subject and increasingly think they can get away with breaking the law, it is claimed.
And religious experts fear RE is now at serious risk of completely disappearing in many schools.

Ed Pawson, chairman of the National Association of Teachers of Religious Education, said: "There has been a dramatic slump in the take-up of RE in secondary schools. Once it dies out at GCSE level, it will die right across the board.

"Nobody is policing the teaching of RE and the Government offers no incentive for it to be taught. It would be an absolute tragedy if it died out.

"The subject is more relevant today than ever and gives pupils an understanding of their culture and heritage, and the culture of others."

The study of almost 2,000 secondary schools found more than 500 are breaking the law by failing to teach RE to children aged between 14 and 16. It predicts this trend will surge by at least 10 per cent next year, and  says the introduction of the English Baccalaureate is the key reason.

School Leadership Today
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