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Schools being 'forced to axe religious education lessons'

Religious education is being “killed off” in schools because of Government reforms to the curriculum and qualifications, according to research.

Figures show that a third of secondary schools now flout the law by refusing to allow pupils to study the subject in the final two years of compulsory education.

In a damning report, it emerged that rising numbers of schools were cutting specialist RE teachers and relying on staff with a poor grasp of the subject to deliver lessons.

The study by the National Association of Teachers of Religious Education also found that more pupils were dropping the subject at GCSE level or being forced to squeeze courses into just a year.

Researchers warned that the introduction of the “English Baccalaureate” – a new school leaving certificate – was to blame for a sharp decline in the subject’s status. Under the system, pupils can gain the EBacc for achieving good GCSE grades in the five core academic disciplines of maths, English, science, foreign languages and either history or geography.

The Government is now proposing to scrap GCSEs altogether in these subjects in favour of new-style qualifications dubbed “English Baccalaureate Certificates”. But the NATRE claimed the move had marginalised other subjects that are not included in the reforms, meaning hundreds of schools were “killing off RE”.

It comes despite the fact that RE is currently a compulsory subject in all state schools.

Ed Pawson, the organisation’s chairman, said: “It is unacceptable that such a high number of schools are failing to offer their students the opportunity to study RE. We are calling on the government to conduct an urgent inquiry into why so many schools are neglecting a subject that they say is compulsory.”


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