School keeps faith with its religious education
THE teaching of religious education at a Gloucestershire school is at odds with a critical Ofsted report into the state of its delivery across England, its headteacher has said.
Tirlebrook Primary School, Tewkesbury, was one of the schools visited by members of the schools inspectorate, which said more than half of schools were found to be failing pupils on religious education.
The report, Religious Education: Realising the Potential, said schools and the Government had failed to focus effectively on religious education.
But Lisa Quelcuti, head teacher of Tirlebrook Primary, said inspectors found pupils developed a broad knowledge and understanding of religion and belief, especially of Christian beliefs and practices.
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The inspectors said: "Pupils have a good grasp of the impact that religion has on people's lives and they are able to describe and explain why people belong to religions.
"They are confident in describing some similarities and differences between religions and, increasingly, within religions. Pupils can reflect on how teachings from religion might apply to their own lives."
Mrs Quelcuti added: "Our school was seen to have a strong commitment to raising standards and this was reflected in the use of monitoring activities to help bring about continual improvement.
"At Tirlebrook we endeavour to provide opportunities for all our pupils to explore the curriculum and the world around them and to enquire and investigate. We have a stimulating creative environment that encourages our pupils to get involved and enjoy their learning. The ethos of the school is about inspiring positive attitudes and striving to excel.
"RE makes a substantial contribution to the overall ethos of Tirlebrook School. Through RE our pupils develop positive attitudes towards themselves, other people and the natural world.
Inspectors visited schools across Gloucestershire.
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.
Although there were examples of good practice, inspectors found six out of 10 schools examined in this report failed to realise the subject's full potential.
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.
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 they were "disappointed but not surprised by these findings."
He added: "We have been warning the Department for Education for some time about the poor state of religious education in many schools.
"It is vital that the Department for Education works with the Religious Education Council on putting things right. We can do better."