Religious studies tier results prompt call for government support
Source: NATRE, REC
Two decades of growth in A-level RS are in jeopardy due to five-year funding crisis, says Religious Education Council as father of the house Sir Peter Bottomley warns government must not “let down” young people.
“We must not let young people down by continuing to starve the subject of funding and leadership. Schools and colleges need a national plan that sets out a modern and relevant curriculum for education in religion and religions and cultures of the world. Generations of students should understand the spiritual development and inter-religious understanding that is necessary to contribute fully to modern British society.”
The number of students taking A Levels in Religious Studies in England and Wales fell by 447, despite a 6.1 per cent increase last year.
This year’s 2.7% drop comes after a two-decade period in which RS saw one of the fastest growth rates for A-levels in the humanities, beating law, geography and history over a similar period.
This year, there were 45.5% more entries at RS A level than in 2003.
The National Association of Teachers of RE (NATRE) and the Religious Education Council of England and Wales (REC) have warned that this period of growth is now in jeopardy after a five-year funding shortfall which has impacted current youngsters and future who study the subject.
This includes disadvantaged students, who are twice as likely to pass the RS A level as their peers, favoring it over geography and history.
Responding to the results, House father Sir Peter Bottomley reiterated his call for a national plan, a proposal he first announced after chairing a parliamentary roundtable on the future of the subject in March :
“It is simply not acceptable to let these young people down by continuing to starve the subject of funding. A national plan that develops a modern and relevant curriculum in religion and worldview is needed to ensure that a generation of young people receive the spiritual development and inter-religious understanding necessary to take their place in modern British society.”
Iona, an RS student who took up an offer to study philosophy and politics at Bristol, also spoke about her experience of the subject’s funding crisis during the roundtable in March:
“I changed universities to be able to take an A level in RS because it was not offered at my previous school. For me, the interdisciplinary and philosophical aspect of the A RS level was an opportunity to reflect deeply on a variety of religious and non-religious worldviews.
“During our two years, we had three different teachers, one of whom was not qualified to teach SR at A level. Due to this inconsistency, I spent a lot of time studying and I been fortunate to have a parent who could help. I would like to see more support for the subject and its teachers so that other students can fully experience the benefits of A-level SR.”
Sarah Lane Cawte, REC Chair, said: “Over two decades, RS has become increasingly popular for A-level students. However, this year’s results raise serious concerns about the funding crisis. current in the subject. The subject cemented his reputation. as academically rigorous and personally rewarding with graduates pursuing successful careers in media, law, and politics at some of the nation’s top universities. It also appears to be a tool for social mobility, with many disadvantaged students taking up the subject and doing well, opening up a wealth of transferable skills to these students that may not have been accessible before.
“Unfortunately, we now foresee a situation where the brightest and best students attracted to A-levels may be let down by a lack of specialization due to government inaction on funding and teacher recruitment. .”
Katie Freeman, President of NATRE, said, “Congratulations to all the students who have faced tremendous challenges over the past few years. These results are a testament to the hardworking and passionate community of RE teachers we have across the country. At Level A, we see some of the brightest students drawn to a subject that sees them debate, analyze and reflect deeply on a variety of religious and non-religious worldviews on humanity’s deepest questions. Following, teaching the subject at A level requires a high level of expertise and knowledge. A national plan will ensure that we can support current and future teachers by developing the best evidence-based curriculum to ensure that every A-level student receives the specialist teaching they deserve.”
Sky News Producer Rosetta Fourlagawo said: “RS was one of my favorite subjects at school. The opportunity to think deeply about some of life’s biggest questions sparked in me a great curiosity about the world beyond mine. At A level, his academic approach to understanding different worldviews has been invaluable to my work as a journalist. I highly recommend him to anyone interested in a career that requires them to think critically about the world that surrounds them.
John De Bono QC now a barrister: “The study of A-level SR provides a number of invaluable skills. The ability to construct an argument, the ability to critique someone else’s argument, as well as the empathy with other points of view that you don’t have These are all transferable skills that I use as a lawyer, and I’m sure other people in business and other professions use them every day of their professional life.