The WFD 2 panel
WFD 2 Faith in Schools Press
22 February 12
NEW RESEARCH FINDS WE SPEND LESS THAN £1 A YEAR PER PUPIL ON R.E.
In a month where religion has been high up the public agenda, new research shows that this vital subject is at the bottom of the pile when it comes to educating our children with less than £1 per year spent on each pupil in school.
At the second of the Westminster Faith Debates this Wednesday 22nd February, Professor James Conroy will present conclusions from in depth study of 24 schools across the UK as part of the AHRC/ESRC Religion and Society programme. He found that Religious Education in Britain is drastically under-resourced, torn between competing aims, and is gradually becoming the dumping ground of the curriculum. Far from being a lesson about religion, helping students understand their own and other's beliefs, it has now become a catch all lesson which covers everything from sex to citizenship. It’s also frighteningly dependent on the head’s own feeling on the subject.
Schools spend less money and less time than on any other examination subject. This is despite it being the main space for young people to grapple with the big questions of life, understand our religious heritage, and develop as independent thinkers in a deeply diverse society.
Conroy said “Whilst governments insist on RE’s importance in theory, they marginalise it in practice – as Michael Gove has recently done by refusing to treat it as a core subject.” He called this a “fatal ambivalence”.
Richard Dawkins and Bishop John Pritchard will respond to the research from Conroy and Bob Jackson.
Access speakers' presentations here: http://www.religionandsociety.org.uk/faith_debates/faith_in_schools
- 'God Delusion' Author and Churchman Debate Faith, Dawkins and Bishop: Children need good RE', report of the 22 Feb WFD in The War Cry 3 March 2012: http://archive.salvationarmy.org.uk/uki/www_uki.nsf/fm-issue-contents?openform&publication=War
- Professor Conroy was interviewed about his Religion & Society-funded RE research & the WFD mentioned on Sunday broadcast on BBC Radio 4 26 Feb 7am (available to listen 28 mins in until 3 March): http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qnbd
- Charlotte Simpson 'My baby's not a Christian or a Muslim. She's a Guardian reader' arising from her comment at the 22 Feb WFD guardian.co.uk 25 Feb: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2012/feb/25/parental-right-responsibility-child-religious
- Andrew Copson 'Schools should teach morality for the here and now – not for any life to come' on guardian.co.uk 25 Feb: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2012/feb/24/school-teach-morality-here-and-now?CMP=twt_gu
- Bardsley, Fran 'Lessons in RE are vital, says Bishop' about Bishop of Oxford John Pritchard's contribution to the 22 Feb WFD,The Oxford Times 24 Feb: http://www.oxfordtimes.co.uk/news/9550871.Lessons_in_RE_are_vital__says_Bishop/
- 'Role of Religion in education discussed in public debate', write up from Accord of the 22 Feb WFD 23 Feb: http://accordcoalition.org.uk/2012/02/23/role-of-religion-in-education-discussed-in-public-debate/
- Iain Dale show on LBC radio with Linda Woodhead and British Humanist Association Chief Executive Andrew Copson immediately after the 22 Feb WFD (requires sign in):
Tax, Faith in Schools and LBC Parliament - 22 Feb 12
- BBC Three Counties Radio Three Counties Breakfast 'Religious Education' coversation with Religion and Society director & WFD co-chair Professor Linda Woodhead broadcast 7.22am 22 Feb, 6 mins, available until 28 Feb to listen to from here (chapter 6): http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00nlj6z#p00pcyzn
- Professor Conroy debated with British Humanist Association Chief Executive Andrew Copson ahead of the 22 Feb WFD live on Nicky Campbell's breakfast show on BBC Radio 5 Live, 22 Feb.
- Cathryn Clarke 'Less than £1 per pupil spent on RE resources' blog about the 22 Feb WFD onguardian.co.uk 22 Feb: http://www.guardian.co.uk/teacher-network/2012/feb/22/religious-education-re-funding
- Martin Dunlop ‘Ambivalence’ towards RE, but not in Scottish Catholic schools' about Professor Conroy's WFD paper Scottish Catholic Observer 22 Feb: http://www.sconews.co.uk/news/16592/crippling-ambivalence-towards-re-in-schools/
- Steve Doughty 'Schools spend just £1 per pupil on religious lessons as subject falls victim to squeeze on time and money' article about Prof Conroy's research & the 22 Feb WFD Daily Mail 22 Feb: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2104605/Schools-spend-just-1-pupil-religious-lessons-subject-falls-victim-squeeze-time-money.html
- BBC Radio 4 Call You and Yours asking what part Christianity plays in British life featuring 22 Feb WFD speaker Professor Conroy alongside Mona Siddiqui & others broadcast 12 noon 21 Feb (1 hr). Listen from here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01c7pqd#synopsis
- BBC News piece 'State school RE under-resourced and overlooked - study' about the 22 Feb WFD 21 Feb: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-17115597
- James Conroy 'Does religious education work?', The Tablet 17 Feb, about his his Religion & Society-funded RE research presented at the 22 Feb WFD.
- The Westminster Faith debates are designed to bring the best academic research into the public eye, making the very topical debates on the role of religion in society more informed on subjects from extremism to multiculturalism, welfare reform to religious freedom. All details are available on the website: http://www.religionandsociety.org.uk/faith_debates
- The Westminster Faith Debates are organised by The AHRC/ESRC Religion and Society programme, Charles Clarke and Theos.
- James Conroy is professor of Religious and Philosophical Education at the University of Glasgow
Press enquiries should be directed to the Theos Press Office