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[Image] The WFD 2 panel

WFD 2 Faith in Schools Press

22 February 12

Press Release


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

Media Coverage


  1. 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
  2. The Westminster Faith Debates are organised by The AHRC/ESRC Religion and Society programme, Charles Clarke and Theos.
  3. James Conroy is professor of Religious and Philosophical Education at the University of Glasgow

Press enquiries should be directed to the Theos Press Office

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