The Daily Telegraph reports that Ofsted, the education watchdog, says that schools in many parts of the country are fuelling misguided beliefs and this poor quality religious education in schools may be breeding intolerance between faiths.
“In a report to be published tomorrow, inspectors will criticise the “patchy” standards of RE being taught in England and call for lessons to be subjected to national controls for the first time.
RE is compulsory in all schools but it is the only subject not governed by the National Curriculum. Instead, syllabuses are drawn up locally by groups of teachers and religious leaders in a move designed to reflect community diversity.
In a controversial move, Ofsted now says the model is outdated and is calling for classes to be reigned in, a recommendation strongly backed by the Church of England.
For the first time, this would ensure that all schools gave appropriate lesson time to faiths such as Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism as well as secular philosophies.
…..according to Ofsted, many religious education syllabuses do not focus strongly enough on the impact of religion in modern Britain – and may be undermining the Government’s drive to promote so-called community cohesion.
Inspectors are expected to recommend a review of the way the curriculum is currently set. One option would be creating the first National Curriculum for RE.
In 2004, a voluntary curriculum was announced by Charles Clarke, the then education secretary, but there are concerns that it has not been widely adopted.
Under the voluntary code – which may be made mandatory – Christianity is still the main religion taught in schools. However, it recommends studying the tenets of the other five main religions – Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism – up to the age of 14.
It also says pupils should able to share their own beliefs without embarrassment or ridicule. It recommends there should be opportunities to study other religious traditions such as the Baha’i faith, Jainism and Zoroastrianism, alongside secular views such as humanism.
The move is likely to be strongly resisted by local religious leaders, some of whom believe humanism has no place in RE lessons.”