Review on Church school RE pledges to raise standard for globally important subject

18th September 2014

Making a Difference?” – a review of Religious Education in Church of England schools published this week,  pledges to raise the standard of RE in all its schools by better equipping teachers and providing improved resources. 

The review, led by Alan Brine, Ofsted’s national lead for RE, found that, in contrast to community schools*, good and outstanding RE was found in the majority of CofE secondary schools due to the high quality of subject expertise amongst the teachers.  But at primary level the report reveals there are similar challenges to those found in community schools and recommends a more robust and challenging approach to the teaching of Christianity. This, in turn, will complement the improved teaching of other faiths.  

The report is specifically about the teaching of RE as a subject in the CofE’s more than 4,700 schools and academies, making it more about religious literacy and depth of knowledge than religious practice; it is not about the general Christian character of church schools which is fostered through other channels. 

It shows that where there are subject specialists (secondary) RE is significantly better than in community schools. Therefore it concludes that more input is needed on RE as part of Initial Teaching Training, ITT, and more needs to be done to encourage RE specialists to become primary teachers. 

The new Christianity Project and teaching of Christianity in RE are just two practical ways that the CofE’s Board of Education will support schools over the next year: equipping teachers and providing greater depth in curriculum.

Writing in the foreword, the Bishop of Oxford, John Pritchard, Chair of the CofE’s Board of Education, said that RE has had a tough passage recently, and that the “unintended consequences of government reform have placed it at a severe disadvantage in terms of status, time and resource allocation.”  He added that no one can understand the modern world without understanding the place and power of religion. 

The Church of England’s Chief Education Officer, Revd Nigel Genders, said:
“This important Review shows that RE is exceptionally well taught in Church of England secondary schools because it is taught and led by specialist teachers who are properly trained. We want to see that training improved for all teachers, so that all our children get the very best quality of RE in all schools. 

"Making a Difference? provides the data we need to ensure that we can now take decisive steps to improve the quality of RE in all our primary schools. We are launching our own Christianity Project next year, which will ensure a greater depth in the teaching of Christianity in schools. But the government has a major role to play too, and this review shows how important it is that they implement policies that will ensure the subject is valued for the vital part it plays in society so that RE is taught with the depth and rigour that students deserve.” 

Download the full report here

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