“Where do morals come from? What is the difference between Jesus in the Bible and in other scriptures?”
These are just some of the questions the Religious Education Council of England and Wales (REC) says that secondary school pupils grapple with on a regular basis.
But the REC is warning that a shortage of religious education teachers could contribute to religious stereotyping and discrimination, leaving pupils at risk of becoming ignorant, or bigoted.
It says high-quality specialist teaching about all faiths, beliefs and worldviews is essential in a diverse society and is launching a campaign to try to attract more teachers into the profession.
Government data shows that in 2017-18, only 405 of initial teacher training places in England for RE were filled – well below the target of 643; figures for Wales have not yet been published.
The figures come against a backdrop of schools struggling to retain existing teachers – last month a report found the number of qualified teachers leaving the profession (for reasons other than retirement) had increased from 6% (25,260) of the qualified workforce in 2011 to 8% (34,910) in 2016.
‘The big mysteries of life’
For Lynsey Wilkinson, head of religious education at Redhill Academy in Arnold near Nottingham, RE is important, given the range of views and opinions to which pupils are exposed.
“We live in a dynamic ever-changing society full of different perspectives, beliefs and cultures,” says Miss Wilkinson.
“Learning about these things helps the pupils in my classroom see the world clearly and helps them develop a genuine understanding about the world and the people in it.
“And that understanding will help them to shape the society of the future – a better society.”
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Religion Education At Redstone:
For Islamic Studies Key Stage 3, we follow our own bespoke curriculum created specifically for the needs of our pupils at Redstone, which naturally follows on to the GCSE AQA scheme of work at Key Stage 4.
The Key Stage 4 Islamic Studies is designed around the AQA Religious Studies GCSE course with an additional focus on Monotheism, Belief as explained in the Qur’an and Sunnah, regulations of purification and worship, Muslims as part of a multi-cultural society, study of the biography of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), mercy and forgiveness, and treating others as one would like to be treated himself in practice. This curriculum place emphasis on living as a Muslim within our British multicultural society, and that Islam can be practised in such a society peacefully.