New RE Syllabus Could Limit Children’s Exploration Of Different Faiths

school summer 1Proposed changes to the way religious education is taught at GCSE could limit student’s options to explore different faiths.

That was the view expressed by the teacher in charge of the subject at the Five Islands School.

Kevin Leeman was speaking at last week’s SACRE Committee meeting, a statutory group run in every Local Education Authority to guide religious education in their schools.

The LEA’s advisor, David Hampshire, told members that the government wants to change the way RE is taught to increase the amount of knowledge learnt and make it equivalent to other subjects like Geography and History.

He said there’s a perception that it’s “very easy” to get a good GCSE grade in the subject with only a small amount of knowledge.

If the changes go through, in future pupils will study just two religions in much greater depth.

But Kevin was worried that too much content and facts in the subject could limit time for critical thinking.

He currently encourages pupils to think more widely about religion and to choose the areas they want to study.

Kevin said it was about motivating them, and giving them the knowledge that will equip them for the modern world, something that’s especially important in Scilly where experience of the ‘outside world’ can be limited.

The SACRE board will be feeding back their thoughts on the changes to the Department for Education this winter.

They also want to bring in more members for their subcommittees, including representatives from other faiths represented on the islands, other than the Church of England, and more teachers.

A local event to promote religious understanding in the community is also on the agenda for next year.

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