Most Schools Break Law on Religious Education
Judith Judd, Education Editor, The Independent (London, England)
FOUR out of five non-denominational secondary schools are breaking the law by failing to provide religious education for all their pupils, a report published yesterday says.
The Religious Education Council's report, the first survey of all the evidence about RE for a decade, paints a gloomy picture of the subject's plight, and asks whether the Government has deliberately covered up the facts.
A study of 170 recent inspectors' reports shows that 116 out of 135 local authority secondary schools - more than 80 per cent - were failing to provide RE for all pupils, and the position in opted-out schools was almost as bad.
"In terms of demonstrating that legal obligations are being taken seriously by making adequate provision, the picture which emerges is alarming," says the report's author, Dr Brian Gates, the council's deputy chairman and head of the religion and social ethics department at St Martin's College, Lancaster.
Dr Gates, who surveyed all the evidence about RE, uses government statistics to show that pupils aged 14 to 16 spend less time on RE than on any other subject except music - around 30 minutes a week instead of the hour recommended by government advisers on the curriculum. Physical education is given twice as much time.
What is more, a quarter of the limited RE tuition is provided by teachers without relevant academic or professional qualifications. …