Skip to content

Making a Difference? A Review of Religious Education in Church of England Schools

March 9, 2016

MADI have long held that church schools divert energy and mission away from community schools and that the Church of England should stop investing in them. However, the more that this government departs from liberal values in its education policy, the more church schools are becoming a witness to something better and more holistic.

Writing in the foreword, the then 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 review, led by Alan Brine, who was then 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.

The secretary of the National Society, Rev’d J. Ainsworth, thinks locally agreed syllabuses have declined in quality recently. This goes against much of what we in SACREs are working for and I find her comments insulting and ignorant. She wants a return to ‘systematic teaching’ of world faiths – despite the fact that those of us who taught this way have found that it isn’t successful. She lauds the Christianity Project – which I continue to find obscure and lacking in any discrimination as to what is key knowledge and what is peripheral.

The meat of the report suggests more understanding that that shown by Rev’d J. Ainsworth. It emphases the enquiry model of learning and the self-development of pupils over and above so-called factual knowledge.

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 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.”

It’s online here

return to the home page


From → Uncategorized

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: