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Survey suggests EBacc changes are harming RE

28 September 2012


A BIG drop in the number of students entering for next year's GCSE examination in religious studies (RS) has been found by a new survey from the National Association of Teachers of Religious Education (NATRE), published today.

Based on a study of 628 secondary schools and academies, the report confirms predictions that the place of religious education (RE) in schools would be undermined by the Government's examination policy.

The survey of community and denominational schools and academies, carried out over six weeks in June and July this year, suggests that one third of schools are failing to provide Key Stage 4 pupils with their legal entitlement to RE, and that a quarter of schools have cut posts for specialist RE teachers. Most blamed the problems on the exclusion of RS from the English Baccalaureate ( News, 21 September).

Two-thirds of schools reported a drop in entries for the GCSE full course in RS, and more than half said that they had no entries for the RS short course for 2014. In one fifth of schools and academies, teachers were given less time in RS than in other subjects to prepare students for exams.

The Church of England's chief education officer, the Revd Jan Ainsworth, said that education ministers had been repeatedly told, and had refused to accept, that the situation underlined in the report would result if RS were not among the core English Baccalaureate subjects. "It now seems likely that Mr Gove could go down in history as the Secretary of State who destroyed religious education - at a time when it is needed more than ever."

The executive officer for NATRE, Rosemary Rivett, said that had the survey been conducted after this month's announcement of changes to the examination system that further marginalised RE, there would have been more responses to the survey, and the reported results would have been worse. "The evidence shows that, whether or not ministers intended it, next year's school-leavers will be less religiously educated than those who did so when the Coalition came to power."

Educationally successful nations such as Singapore, often cited as an example by Mr Gove, increasingly perceived the importance of RE, and were increasing their provision in the subject, Ms Rivett said.


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