iNews reports that it is no surprise that significant numbers of schools are breaking the law by not offering Religious Education (RE). When Michael Gove omitted to include it in the English Baccalaureate (Ebacc), he was sending a message to schools that it was a second-class subject, giving them the green light to squeeze it out.
However, the news that 26% of secondary schools are not providing RE lessons is deeply startling. Yes, there are curriculum pressures, but those headteachers who are marginalising the subject are failing their pupils and should be ashamed.
In a world where acts of unspeakable violence are committed in the name of religion, we need more RE, not less. In contrast to the dangers of cultural and religious division, RE promotes an understanding of our shared humanity.
Oh, and if they tell you that they do it through ‘conferences…citizenship lessons [and] assemblies’, it means that they are not doing it properly.
Disparate, piecemeal provision which gives a nod to a school’s statutory obligations doesn’t come close to the richness and vibrancy that high quality RE brings to a child’s education when taught through dedicated curriculum time.
Difficulties recruiting good RE teachers is no excuse. When recruitment becomes difficult you don’t just give up on a subject, you get pro-active in addressing that problem. Good headteachers will do all that they can to make sure that RE (like any other subject in their schools) is of the highest quality.
RE gives young people the chance to explore big questions. What happens when we die? How should we treat each other? How should we treat our world? Is there more to life than material possessions? Where have we come from, where are we going, and why is there a world at all anyway?
These things matter. To all of us. Christian, Muslim, Jew, Humanist, agnostic. The lot. If they are missing from a school’s curriculum that school is failing all of its pupils, and those who allow that to happen should be held to account.
Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin
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