THE Government must include religious studies (RS) in the EBacc before it became compulsory in all secondary schools next September, the Church of England’s chief education officer, the Revd Nigel Genders, said this week. The decision should come soon, as schools began the EBacc-centred curriculum planning, he said. The 2015 cohort of pupils will take the EBacc examinations in 2020.
Writing in the Church Times this week, Mr Genders draws attention to the 67-per-cent drop in entries for the GCSE short course in RS since ministers decided it would no longer count towards schools’ examination achievement. Insisting that all pupils take the EBacc could similarly affect the full GCSE RS course, he predicts.
The current position, that only 38 per cent of students take the EBacc, has allowed students to choose, and schools to offer, subjects that they would prefer to study, hence the growth in popularity of RS. “The jump from 38 per cent to 100 per cent will change things entirely,” he suggests. In the longer term, the Government’s efforts to bring about greater rigour in RS could be undermined, he says.
The former Secretary of State for Education, Charles Clarke, and Professor Linda Woodhead also criticised the decision to leave RS out of the EBacc. In a pamphlet published this summer, they argued that religious education should be part of the national curriculum rather than treated as a special case.
Education supplement - Charles Clarke, the Revd Nigel Genders, Dr John Gay, Maragret Holness and others explore the state of education and faith