Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills) has today published a new report on the state of religious education (RE) in 183 maintained primary and secondary schools across 70 local authorities in England. These schools were inspected between April 2006 and March 2009.
The sample included community and voluntary controlled schools with a religious character but not voluntary aided schools with a religious character, for which there are separate RE inspection arrangements.
Entitled Transforming Religious Education, the report, which is essentially qualitative with some numbers interspersed, is available to download from:
Overall, Ofsted found the quality of RE in the sample of primary schools to be broadly the same as that reported in 2007 (in its Making Sense of Religion), although not enough was deemed to be of good quality.
The quality of RE in the secondary schools visited was worse than in the schools involved in the 2007 survey, with the proportion of schools where RE was inadequate being considerably higher than previously.
The worst single aspect of RE provision was found to be in respect of continuing professional development of teachers, which was assessed as inadequate in two-fifths of all schools.
The best ratings were for the personal development of pupils in RE, where four-fifths of primary and three-quarters of secondary schools were judged good or outstanding.
On no other measure did more than approximately one-half the schools achieve a good or outstanding assessment, with many falling into the satisfactory category.
Ofsted’s conclusion is that ‘despite the very considerable commitment and energy which many teachers bring to the subject, in many of the schools visited the provision was no better than satisfactory quality, or in some cases inadequate, and the effectiveness of much of the RE observed was not good enough.’
Among the questions which Ofsted feels need to be considered are: ‘whether the current statutory arrangements for the local determination of the RE curriculum are effective; whether there is sufficient clarity about what constitutes learning in RE and how pupil progress can be measured; and whether the provision for professional development in RE is adequate.’