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Education – UK lacks good RE

February 2018

More than 25 per cent of Britain’s state secondary schools have struggled to meet their legal obligation to teach pupils about major religions. This was among the results of the latest analysis of the government’s school workforce census.

All state-funded schools, including academies and free schools, are legally required by the 1998 School Standards and Framework Act to provide religious education (RE) as part of a balanced curriculum.

However, the latest analysis has prompted the Religious Education Council and the National Association of Teachers of RE (NATRE) to create a new ‘State of the nation’ report.

This report found 25 per cent of all schools said a weekly RE lesson was not available. Even among schools with a religious character, 4 per cent failed to offer a weekly lesson. Also, according to the report, RE receives the lowest level of teaching time in academies and free schools.

Some 56 per cent dedicated less than 3 per cent of their timetables to RE lessons. Deborah Weston, research officer for NATRE, commented: ‘These statistics highlight serious problems that have implications for cohesion and inclusivity in our society, as well as presenting questions around the role of specialist RE teachers in schools’.