A new report from Ofsted has found that many teachers are unsure about what they are trying to achieve in Religious Education lessons. Inspectors reported that in many of the schools they visited RE was no better than satisfactory and in some cases was inadequate.
The report says that because the curriculum is determined locally there is wide variation in the quantity and quality of support given to schools by local authorities and relevant advisory councils. Inspectors also highlighted a number of specific concerns about the teaching of religious belief and the report says that many of the schools were not paying enough attention to teaching the core beliefs of Christianity.
‘Transforming Religious Education’ does, however, state that one major success in the subject area at both secondary and primary level is the way teaching supports the appreciation and understanding of different values by pupils. The findings are based on inspectors’ visits to 94 primary and 89 secondary schools, excluding faith schools, across more than 70 local authorities in England between April 2006 and March last year. The quality of teaching was reported to be inadequate in nearly a fifth of the lessons they observed and in some secondary schools changes to the overall school curriculum were having a negative impact on RE. The report also says there is not enough high quality training in the subject, too few schools can access good training opportunities or schools are not giving enough priority to the subject in their professional development programmes.
Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Christine Gilbert, said the report highlighted the need for a reconsideration of the local arrangements for the oversight of RE, so schools could have a clear framework which helped them secure better student achievement in the subject.