How compulsory is RE post 15 years old?

(39 Posts)
fiftyval Wed 13-Mar-13 17:31:58

At a recent parents evening I asked up to what age RE is a compulsory subject. I was told up to 15 years old. DD is currently year 8 at a state school ( non faith) but about to become an academy and will be choosing some of her options in a few week's time ( This school does a 3 year KS4).
She does not want to choose RE ( difficult enough to potentially decide between the more important subjects of History and Geography imo). She has had RE since reception so, frankly, I think her time would be better spent on other things; she is very interested in moral/ethical issues covered in PHSE/citizenship lessons and I would prefer any compulsory timetable time to be spent on those subjects or on her option choices.
If it is true that they have to do RE to 15 , then given that she will be 15 in the September of year 10, would I be able request that her time is spent on other subjects to ensure she gets good grades in the subjects that matter to her? Or would I get absolutely nowhere requesting this?
I personally think it is disgraceful to make RE compulsory when languages or science are not.
I'm sure there are lots of you out there who know more about this and would be grateful for any advice.

LadyLech Fri 15-Mar-13 18:49:10

Bigblue, the requirement to do collective worship is a separate thing and cannot be combined with RE, so it won't be that. But if your son is doing ethics in his PSE lessons, I suspect the school will claim that this is their allocated RE time. Schools do combine it with other subjects sometimes - with PSHE, citizenship or a general humanities course.

bigbluebus Thu 14-Mar-13 21:55:03

I have never signed any forms to withdraw DS from RE lessons. He just didn't choose it as one of his options at the end of Yr 9. He goes to an Outstanding Comprehensive school.
I can only assume that they get away with it by having a different minister from local churches allocated to each year group, who come in monthly and talk in assembly. (Assemblies are usually just for announcements). They discuss ethical issues in PSE but they definitely do not have compulsory RE or philosophy & ethics lessons.

NinaNannar Thu 14-Mar-13 21:33:52

We do discrimination within the church and out

BooksandaCuppa Thu 14-Mar-13 20:01:18

OP - definitely worth finding out about the content. In non-exam RS at my school the kids study, as examples, basic human rights, the concepts of justice, equality, meaning of life; by discussing such as abortion; euthanasia; gay marriage; the Human Rights Act, specific criminal court cases - with reference to philosophical principles and sometimes comparative religions.

I think it's the best hour they spend all week - for children of 14-16 to be thinking about the world around them and other people can't be a bad thing.

fiftyval Thu 14-Mar-13 19:44:33

Thanks everyone for all the responses and food for thought. I will find out more at the options evening and ask about the ethics component. It is interesting though that there do seem to be differences accross schools.
Talkingpeace - sounds like what your dd has chosen is the type of option I was after. I am concerned that my dd will have enough on her plate with chosen options without further hours used up on RE and the potential of an extra exam. However if the content is going to interest her than fair enough.
I think my initial concern has been driven that so far in high school they seem to be re-studying all the major religions which they have already covered in years 5 and 6. I'm not sure how much depth you really need, to have an appreciation of how religion contributes to ( or in many instances hinders) society.
I would like to see a module on how all major religions discriminate against women but perhaps that will come...

LadyLech Thu 14-Mar-13 03:45:55

Creamteas, what is taught will depend on the area you live in. Each local authority has to appoint a committee called a SACRE (standing committee for religious education) who will devise the syllabus for that authority. Some syllabi are very religious in nature, and some are very philosophical. For example, at my last school, the SACRE there used to include a fair bit of philosophy of religion, with students studying atheism, humanism as well as the arguments for and against the existence of God. They also used to study cults, paganism and new religious movements. The syllabus there was very open and we had lots of topics to choose from. In contrast, the county I taught in before that was very prescriptive and very traditional - the six major world religions was all they covered. Some units taught as a religion, others thematic.

creamteas Thu 14-Mar-13 00:20:56

Brenda I don't think what they do in ethics is just RE re-branded. I would say what they cover is basic philosophy (Rousseau, Bentham etc).

But then again, I don't have much idea what RE covers in other schools. When I was at school, it was what do the different religions practice and what do they think about certain issues.

Debates about if humans are civilized or corrupted by society or if the greatest good to the greatest number is a good organizing principle were definitely not covered!

BrendaBlethyn Wed 13-Mar-13 23:07:31

That ethics thing is RS. Renamed. Same stuff

creamteas Wed 13-Mar-13 22:53:24

My DCs secondary school does not have RE lessons in any year. Instead they have 'citizenship and ethics' up to Year 11 which has some elements of comparative religion, but focuses much more on other areas.

In sixth form, citizenship is still on the timetable but they can opt for things like reading in local primary schools rather than have a lesson as such.

I'm happy they learn a bit about religions in general, but think the idea of religious instruction (and the daily act of worship) is an anachronism.

Talkinpeace Wed 13-Mar-13 21:56:40
BrendaBlethyn Wed 13-Mar-13 21:56:19

I agree - more than ever kids need to understand RE - you parents need to look at the syllabus before you condemn

LadyLech Wed 13-Mar-13 21:55:05

There is a legal requirement for all schools to provide Religious Education.

This was made legal in the 1944 education act, which stated that "Religious Instruction should be given in every county school". This act also brought in the right of withdrawal for parents and teachers (from teaching it). However, there are specific grounds under which this can be done.

There are guidelines as to how much should be taught, but as far as I am aware, these are guidelines. It does not have to be a set hour a week say, schools can put them all together and do 'RE' days for example, and still fulfill their legal obligation.

There is also an obligation to provide RS in some form for A level students too. Again, this does not have to be a weekly provision.

However, this does not extend to colleges. I teach at a FE college, and we have no requirement to teach any RS.

A few years ago, Ofsted stopped reporting on the RS provision in schools. Since then, there has been a big increase in the number of schools who do not fulfill their legal obligation. with it not being reported on any more, there is little recourse for those schools who do not do this. I'm a HoD in RE (but at a college). I understand from my RE teacher friends in schools that the pressure has really been put on, and schools are cutting back on the amount they teach (particularly with the EBACC changes).

It is a shame.

BrendaBlethyn Wed 13-Mar-13 21:54:18

i know that exam

its really not RS

TheBuskersDog Wed 13-Mar-13 21:53:16

My son has not done any RE since year 9 when it was covered in PSHE. There was an option to take Philosophy and Ethics GCSE, but when he realised it was very much RE he decided against it. All pupils take Citizenship GCSE in KS4 so that could tenuously link to RE I suppose (although nothing I can remember of it was about religion), although the triple scientists finish that in Year 10 and so nothing in Year 11.

In theory, talking, they are - you should only be allowed to withdraw from RE for religious reasons. It shouldn't be done en masse

BrendaBlethyn Wed 13-Mar-13 21:48:14
Talkinpeace Wed 13-Mar-13 21:46:27

the form to opt out of RE was part of the GCSE options form : it was made available to every single child (300 in year group) individually

no they are not

DD gets her ethics from Radio 4, BBC2, BBC4, New Scientist and the Economist : she's not missing out.

BrendaBlethyn Wed 13-Mar-13 21:40:15

there should be a lesson - your school is breaking the law

bigbluebus Wed 13-Mar-13 21:39:42

RE is definitely not a compulsory subject at the large comprehensive school that my DS goes to. He dropped RE at end of Yr9 when he chose his options. That is not to say that there is no religious input - they have visiting ministers from local churches to their assemblies once a month.

OP I think your DD might find RE quite an interesting subject given that she is interested in morals and ethics. We discussed the GCSE curriculum with the RE teacher at the options evening and it certainly seemed very interesting - a far cry from what was taught in RE in my day!!! ALthough DS didn't choose it as he wanted to do triple science so only had 2 option choices left - so went for Geography and History as a MFL is compulsory at his school.

justabigdisco Wed 13-Mar-13 21:38:33

I agree with previous posters who said not to dismiss RE as 'just' learning about religion. I studied it to A level - I was, and remain, a staunch atheist and scientist, but I loved RE and really helped me learn how to think / debate / relate to others.

BrendaBlethyn Wed 13-Mar-13 21:38:21

fiftyval - you really need to find out more about it - its so useful for developing as an adult up to date with topical issues - giving informed opinions and they just LOVE the chance to talk and debate -

BrendaBlethyn Wed 13-Mar-13 21:37:11

our place does the exam - everyone
have an AMAZING pass rate

RS has changed you know - is very about ethics and morals - the kids LOVE IT

ravenAK Wed 13-Mar-13 21:35:54

We have an hour a week of non-exam RE to the end of year 11.

Jolly useful it is too.

It's used for catching up all our missed/below target Controlled Assessments in core subjects...there's a system whereby you email the teacher to let them know that you need Johnny to sit at the back of your year 8 lesson re-doing his CA on 'Of Mice & Men'.

Once all the slackers & ne'er-do-wells have been rounded up & dragged off by her colleagues, the RE teacher gets to catch up her marking whilst the nice kids, who are all up to date with everything, watch Jesus Christ Superstar.

Similar systems exist for compulsory non-exam ICT (the only difference is that the nice kids are playing games rather than watching JCSS).

BackforGood Wed 13-Mar-13 21:33:12

Agree with most others - it's compulsory to study some RE until the end of Yr11, and, as they are studying it anyway, it's not uncommon for a lot of schools to say everyone takes either a full, or half GCSE in it, as you might as well.
Also agree with everyone that you should find out more about what it entails. IME, most youngsters really enjoy RE at GCSE level - it's go lots to do with ethics and philosophy. It's also a hugely important subject in terms of 'knowledge of the world' (as we'd say in early years), but that becomes so important in studies of history, geography, law, science (ethics), and careers such as journalism, politics, medical areas, teaching, and so many more.

VelvetSpoon Wed 13-Mar-13 21:25:56

RE is compulsory at DS1s (non faith) school to end of Yr 11, and all children have to sit the GCSE in it. This is an inept attempt by the school to try and boost exam passes...they are currently labouring at between 30-40% A-C grades generally at GSCE, which for a school in a suburban middle class area is pretty poor. Hence compulsory RE hmm

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