British students want RE to remain compulsory

Some 63% of young people in Britain think that Religious Education should remain compulsory in state schools, reports the Tablet.

The survey conducted in Britain also shows more than half of the adults questioned believe Religious Education lessons in schools are worthwhile with many favour making Religious Education (RE) compulsory.

The poll comes as increasing numbers of teenagers are being forced to drop Religious Education because of the introduction of new-style league tables that prioritise other subjects.

The YouGov poll commissioned by the Religious Education Council of England and Wales found 53% of 1,800 adults questioned in England and Wales thought RE should be compulsory in all state schools, while 58% of adults said they thought RE was beneficial.

Only 9% said they thought it was harmful.

In releasing the poll results, the Religious Education Council of England and Wales said they feared that an expansion of independent academies, state schools run free of local authority, is leading to rising numbers of schools dropping locally-agreed syllabuses in the subject, reports the Telegraph.

The survey results come at a time when British MP’s and peers prepare to attend the first meeting of the newly-formed all-party parliamentary group for RE, established to raise awareness of the importance of RE in schools.

John Keast, chairman of the RE Council, said the group was necessary to counter concerns that the subject was becoming increasingly marginalised by Coalition reforms to education, reports the Telegraph.

This includes a Government decision to exclude RE from the English Baccalaureate – a new school leaving certificate that rewards pupils gaining good GCSE grades in the five core academic disciplines of maths, English, science, foreign languages and either history or geography.

It is feared that this is leading to a decline in the number of schools offering the subject at GCSE level.

Mr Keast said: “There have been a number of unintended consequences for RE as a result of changes made by the Government.”

According to last summer’s GCSE results, a total of 221,974 youngsters entered for the subject compared to 188,704 the year before.

At the same time, history and geography saw a decline in entries.


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