A spokesperson for the Catholic Education Service commented: “As a leading provider of Religious Education, we welcome the laudable efforts of the Commission to improve the quality of RE in all schools. However, for this noble aim to be achieved, there needs to be consensus among the RE community on what high quality RE looks like. Disappointingly, this report fails to produce such a consensus.
“Any attempt to improve the quality of RE in all schools must be applauded and we are committed to working with the RE community to achieve this. However, this report is not so much an attempt to improve RE as to fundamentally change its character. The proposed name change to include ‘worldviews’ means that the scope of the subject is now so wide and nondescript that it would potentially lose all academic value and integrity. As we have always maintained, the quality of Religious Education is not improved by teaching less religion.
“RE in Catholic schools is academically rigorous, rooted in the 2000-year-old theological tradition of the Catholic Church, and inspired by the greatest thinkers, from the theology of St Thomas Aquinas to the humanism of St Thomas More. This is why at GCSE, pupils in Catholic schools account for a fifth of all entrants and continually outperform the national average.
“The Catholic Church will always welcome any move to improve the quality RE, our praise of the new, more academically rigorous GCSE is proof of that. Moreover, the Commission’s recommendation for the DfE to review the impact of excluding RE from the Ebacc is something we wholeheartedly agree with.
“The quality of RE in all schools needs to be improved and there are many ways this can be achieved. Including it as an Ebacc subject is one, succumbing to this contentious redefinition of Religious Education is not.”
Notes to Editors
The Catholic schools sector account for a fifth of all GCSE RE entrants and consistently outperform the national average.
10% of the curriculum in Catholic schools is dedicated to the teaching of RE.
The RE curriculum in Catholic schools is stipulated by the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales and is set out in their Religious Education Curriculum Directory.
Religious Education in Catholic schools draws predominantly on the academic discipline of theology, and is essentially a school level version of the theological discipline taught in most universities. In non-denominational school contexts the approach to RE is largely sociological.
Catholic RE is pluralistic and covers the teaching of all the world’s major religions as well as concepts such as atheism and humanism