Religious education in England's schools needs a total overhaul


Religious education in England's schools needs a total overhaul to bring the subject into the 21st Century, according to a new report by the University of London, reports the BBC.

Co-author Prof Adam Dinham, said content should reflect the real religious landscape. "The religious landscape now includes religious traditions, informal religion and beliefs as well as non-religious world views," said Prof Dinham. 
"We think non-believers and those with informal beliefs need to be treated more seriously as a growing part of the picture." 
Teaching is currently required to reflect mainly Christian traditions while also taking into account the teaching and practices of other principal religions - but official statistics from the 2011 Census showed an increasingly fractured pattern of religious belief.
The picture has been further complicated by the exclusion of RE from the EBacc performance measure, which has led to teaching time for the subject being reduced in many secondary schools. In addition, academies and free schools, which will soon become the majority of schools, are exempt from following locally agreed RE syllabuses. 
This makes the need for clarity pressing, according to the report, with an urgent conversation needed about the future of learning about religion and belief. 
The authors recommend a national panel to develop a new statutory framework for the subject which would be applicable to all schools and would balance a national approach with local needs. 
It should also be compulsory for all students to 16, though taking it at GCSE should remain optional. 
Daniel Hugill, chairman of the National Association of Teachers of Religious Education, said: "In order for every young person to experience high quality religious education we need the Department for Education and school leaders to value and make further investment in teacher training and ongoing professional development. 
"It is only when teachers are well-trained, confident, and knowledgeable that they can equip students with knowledge of lived contemporary religion and belief."
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