Press Release- Friday 7th November 2014
The Catholic Education Service (CES) has welcomed the Government’s proposals for a new academically rigorous Religious Education GCSE and Religious Education A Level. The proposals, which are out for public consultation, put forward a more academically rigorous GCSE which includes the teaching of two religions. The widely welcomed A Level reforms propose increased religious content to ensure the right breadth and depth of study to support students progressing to higher education.
The Most Reverend Malcolm McMahon OP KC*HS, Archbishop of Liverpool, and Chairman of CES said: “Theologically rigorous RE is a core part of Catholic education. These reforms to GCSE RE and A Level RE provide us with an opportunity to ensure that Religious Education at GCSE and A Level in Catholic schools is academically and theologically rigorous in accordance with Canon Law.
“Catholic schools account for 25% of the entries at RE GCSE and 20% of the entries at RE A Level. As the single largest provider of entries to both RE GCSE and RE A Level, we have worked in partnership with the Government to ensure that these proposals are fit for purpose in Catholic schools. We welcome the assurances from the Secretary of State that these proposals do not undermine the autonomy of the Catholic Bishops to determine and inspect religious education in Catholic schools.
“All Catholic schools are required by Church teachings to raise pupils’ awareness of the faith and traditions of other religious communities in order to understand and respect them. These new proposals will facilitate Catholic schools in this duty.”
RE must make up at least 10% of curriculum time in a Catholic school and is inspected separately under long-standing arrangements currently set out in the 2005 Education Act.
Notes to editors
The Catholic Education Service (CES) is an agency of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.
Catholic schools represent 10% of state maintained schools and currently make up 25% of all entries to GCSE RE and 20% of all entries to RE A Level. (Source: Department for Education ‘KS4 qualification and subject data’ KS5 qualification and subject data http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/performance/download_data.html )
Church teaching on the requirement for all Catholic schools to teach interreligious-dialogue can be found in the following Vatican and Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales documents:
- Congregation for Catholic Education (for Institutes of Study), Educating to Intercultural Dialogue in Catholic Schools Living in Harmony for a Civilization of Love, Vatican City (2013)
- The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, Meeting God in Friend and Stranger, CTS, London (2010)
- The Department of Catholic Education and Formation of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, Religious Education Curriculum Directory (RECD), 2012,
The Religious Education Curriculum Directory states the aims of Religious Education (p6):
- To present engagingly a comprehensive content which is the basis of knowledge and understanding of the Catholic faith;
- To enable pupils continually to deepen their religious and theological understanding and be able to communicate this effectively;
- To present an authentic vision of the Church’s moral and social teaching so that pupils can make a critique of the underlying trends in contemporary culture and society;
- To raise pupils’ awareness of the faith and traditions of other religious communities in order to respect and understand them;
- To develop the critical faculties of pupils so that they can relate their Catholic faith to daily life;
- To stimulate pupils’ imagination and provoke a desire for personal meaning as revealed in the truth of the Catholic faith;
- To enable pupils to relate the knowledge gained through Religious Education to their understanding of other subjects in the curriculum;
- To bring clarity to the relationship between faith and life, and between faith and culture.
The outcome of excellent Religious Education is religiously literate and engaged young people who have the knowledge, understanding and skills – appropriate to their age and capacity – to reflect spiritually, and think ethically and theologically, and who are aware of the demands of religious commitment in everyday life.