Religious education wrecked by Gove, says Bishop of Oxford

A bishop has accused the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, of marginalising religious education and called for a new national structure to agree how the subject is taught in schools. This is from the Times…

The Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Rev John Pritchard, backed a curriculum centrally determined by churches, faith groups and the Government to replace locally agreed syllabuses.

The Church of England has already produced, with the University of Cambridge, new teaching materials for RE lessons for its voluntary aided church schools, which set their own syllabus for religious studies. But it will share these with other schools.

The Bishop, who chairs the Church of England Board of Education, said: “You can’t really do comparative religion without having a faith that you know in depth. We don’t teach children five languages at once. You usually major in one and maybe they will have another one that they will do alongside it. We need to study one subject in depth.

“In this country it makes sense in most places to have Christianity as the main subject so we want to put more effort into producing really good material for Christianity.”

He said that new subject content being drafted by the RE Council of England and Wales should reflect a full range of beliefs, including humanist views. He urged Mr Gove to use this as the basis of a national RE curriculum.

RE in most schools is designed by local authority committees on which the Church of England and other religious bodies are represented. Mr Pritchard said this system was losing its influence because of shortage of funds and that RE was damaged by its omission from Mr Gove’s national curriculum and by shortage of teacher training funds in the subject.

More at:  Religious education wrecked by Gove, says Bishop of Oxford (subscription required)

Is the Bishop right in what he says, or do you think it would be wrong for the Church of England to be able to have a greater input in the teaching of RE in schools? Please let us know in the comments or on twitter…

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Categories: Policy.


  1. retrochbabe

    retrochbabe Gov policy on Multiculturalism gave equal value to all beliefs in State run Schools If COf E want to just teach xianity opt out

  2. Anti_Nic

    MarkChater1 StrictTeacher99 It’s statutory until 16, but the curriculum comes from SACRE – or am I confused?

    • StrictTeacher99

      Anti_Nic MarkChater1 that’s generally correct but academies can get round not having to do it and SACREs don’t seem to have much clout!

      • Anti_Nic

        StrictTeacher99 MarkChater1 The fragmentation of education needs to be reversed. It was always going to lead to issues like this.

        • StrictTeacher99

          Anti_Nic MarkChater1 definitely. In all sorts of educational areas there is inequality & unfairness depending on too many variables.

  3. Allan Hayes

    The takeover of RE proposed by Bishop Pritchard would be disastrous and a lamentable loss of opportunity  – RE needs to change to become a celebration and commitment to life and humanity and an invitation to young people to join in- including, but not dominated, by religions. See the discussion developing on

  4. RichardKing633 Twitter

    Children learn their parents Religion at home.  In a multi-cultural, multi-faith society schools must teach respect and basic knowledge of other religions and faiths to reduce extremism and intolerance which can grow if children are only ever exposed to a single opinion, and have no knowledge of the cultures and lifestyles of others.
    Local Communities (SACRES) are best placed to do this for each different Community.

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