It is a legal requirement that all state-funded schools must teach religious education. This has to ‘promote the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils and prepare them for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life’. However, it appears that not all schools are doing this.
NATRE, the National Association of Teachers of Religious Education, requested unpublished data from the Department for Education under the Freedom of Information law. What they found was that 26% of secondary schools in the UK did not have RE lessons on their curriculum.
Academies, which are only partly funded by the government and now make up the majority of secondary schools, were the worst performers when it comes to RE. 34% of them had no RE lessons for 11 to 13-year-olds and 44% did not teach RE to 14 to 16-year-olds.
So, is Religious Education an important subject for children to learn? Isn’t religion dying out as society becomes more and more secular? Well, even if you are not a follower of any religion I think it’s important that you know about them all. How can you understand and respect other people if you don’t understand their culture and their beliefs? After all, we teach people about history so that they can understand cultures without expecting them to become Ancient Romans. In the same way, we can teach children about Jesus, Moses, Buddha and Mohammed without expecting them to become religious.
There is another reason to teach RE in schools. The most fundamental questions of life are only really studied in RE. Is there a god? Is there any kind of existence after death? Is evil a reality? How should we behave towards others? These are key philosophical questions which, without RE, would remain unexamined for most children.
So, why is RE being neglected? It seems to be all down to budgets. The financial pressures that schools are under means that money has to be saved. If there is a subject which must be dropped, RE is usually the first on the list. But what about the legal requirements? Many schools get around this by covering religious issues in their morning assemblies or in other lessons like Citizenship.
I’m in no way religious, though I do know a great deal about most faiths and mythologies. They all try to answer the deepest questions in a meaningful way and can be very enlightening. I think it would be a shame if RE was not taught. I want my children to grow up with a full understanding of as many faiths as possible. That way they will be equipped to either choose one they can believe in or to reject them all yet still respect their followers.
For further reading, you may find the Education Quizzes Knowledge Bank of interest. It’s packed full of articles which aim to answer the questions asked by parents. Whether it’s the details of the National Curriculum or tips on child discipline, we have a library of knowledge at your fingertips! Well worth a look, for any parent.
Do you think RE should be taught in schools? Here at Education Quizzes we’d love to know. Tell us your thoughts by filling in the comments box below. We can’t wait to hear from you!