Academy leader: RE key to educating the whole person
THE principal of Cheltenham's newest academy has said religious education was key to educating the whole person.
Peter Kingham, of All Saints' Academy, was responding to an Ofsted report out today which said more than half of schools were found to be failing pupils on RE.
The schools inspectorate said in Religious Education: realising the potential that schools and the government have failed to focus effectively on religious education.
Although there were examples of good practice, inspectors found six out of ten schools examined in this report failed to realise the subject's full potential.
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The report finds low standards, weak teaching, a confused sense of purpose of what religious education is about, training gaps and weaknesses in the way religious education is examined.
Inspectors visited schools across Gloucestershire and the rest of England. They included Eastcombe Primary School, Stroud; St Paul's Church of England Primary School, Gloucester; Tirlebrook Primary School, Tewkesbury; Chipping Campden School; Severn Vale School, Quedgeley and Sir Thomas Rich's School, Oakleaze; Gloucester.
Mr Kingham, of the joint Catholic/Anglican sponsored academy said: "We live in a multicultural society and world so RE helps students understand other people and their beliefs and cultures.
"Above all that, I think that if schools did not teach RE they would not be educating the whole person.
"RE deals with areas that other subjects cannot – issues such as why are we here, what is the point of life, why does good and evil occur, is there a life after death."
The report made recommendations such as improving the supply and training of religious education teachers; and making the overall curriculum for religious education more challenging.
Ofsted says there is an urgent need for the government to help teachers by clarifying the purpose and aims of religious education, and to promote these through lucid guidance.
Michael Cladingbowl, Ofsted's director of schools, said: "This just isn't good enough when religion and belief are playing such a profound part in today's world. Pupils deserve much better."
John Keast, chairman of the Religious Education Council for England and Wales, said: "It is now vital that the Department for Education works with the Religious Education Council on putting things right."