THE rise, over two decades, in the numbers of students taking
religious studies (RS) for GCSE continued this summer. More than
239,000 students took the full course examination, a seven-per-cent
increase since last year. A further 236,000 pupils took the
short-course qualification, which is worth a "half GCSE".
The percentage of those achieving A*and A grades was comparable
to that of previous years, while it fell in other humanities
subjects. "The level of success demonstrates the effectiveness of
RS teaching, because in many schools students are given less lesson
time to prepare for RS, particularly for the short course, than for
other subjects," the editor of RE Today magazine, Lat
Religious-education specialists fear, however, that this summer
could bring the end of the year-on-year rise which, over 20 years,
has more than doubled the numbers taking RS at GCSE. This year's
cohort was unaffected by the introduction of the English
Baccalaureate, which excludes RS, but the effects of the EBacc will
begin to bite in 2013, said the Revd Dr John Gay, research fellow
in religious education at Oxford University.
"This year's examinees chose RS before Mr Gove took up his post.
Next year, students who like RS will be pressured to choose instead
a humanities subject in the EBacc core," Mr Blaylock said.