GCSE in RE.

(41 Posts)
Jux Thu 17-Jan-13 20:04:36

We are choosing subjects for GCSE atm - well, dd is! They get 1 hr pw of RE, which the school has decided will lead to another GCSE (2x1.5 hr exams). This is a core subject choice.

Why do they have to do it? I know the Gov has deemed that state schools must teach 1hr of RE a week, OK. Why the mandatory GCSE at the end of it though? DD doesn't want to do it, doesn't think it will be helpful as it is focussed on Xianity (she isn't). If it covered religions of the world or ancient religions she'd be interested, particularly the latter (Aztecs, Egyptians, Romans etc).

My own view is that if she's doing the 2 years she may as well do the exam. I do still wonder why the school has made the exam mandatory.

cricketballs Thu 17-Jan-13 20:23:25

Many schools make the exam mandatory to ensure the students see a purpose to studying a subject that they would normally not bother with.

I teach a subject that is compulsory to all, those who haven't chosen it as an option don't see the worthiness of it which means behaviour can be difficult, motivation difficult to achieve etc.

Coconutty Thu 17-Jan-13 20:25:37

Ds loved 'RE Gcse and wasn't looking forward to it at all, it was very interesting and more about opinions really.

Jux Thu 17-Jan-13 20:32:38

Thanks, that does make perfect sense, of course (I seem to be going through another duh-brain phase atm).

I think the philisophy and ethics aspects will be extremely interesting, and will probably give her cause for thought for a long time to come. Also, I hope, help her - all of them - make better thought out decisions all their lives. On the whole, I would see it as more beneficial than not. A bit disappointed that it is focussed on Xianity though.

cricketballs, that could be soul-destroying.

cricketballs Thu 17-Jan-13 20:35:24

Tell me about it! It is worse in yr 10, by yr 11 they have got used to the fact that constant moaning doesn't work wink

I'm an atheist but really enjoyed RE GCSE. It's an easy one to get too.

OrangeLily Thu 17-Jan-13 20:41:45

Sounds like the school are using the compulsory time they must teach and giving the kids an extra qualification out of it.

Can your daughter not cope with sitting an extra exam? If she can its a great thing for her.

In Scotland something similar happens where kids end up sitting a unit of an intermediate in the core time therefore giving them something extra qualification wise.

IslaValargeone Thu 17-Jan-13 20:46:31

I'm not religious but I did enjoy studying RE.
It was really interesting studying how Christianity related to modern issues, I found it far more interesting than I thought I would.

marriedinwhite Thu 17-Jan-13 20:54:08

I hope this complaint isn't about something that's happening at a cofe school.

DS did it; DD will do it. Lots of parents have complained. Interestingly when I was at school (an age ago - O'Levels 1978) many parents thought the girls should do RE because they had to study it compulsorily anyway. At a top grammar school the head then said no, they wouldn't, she didn't think it was sufficiently academically demanding but the course that was taught was a good foundation should any girls chose to do and be committed to Theology A'Level.

How times change.

glaurung Thu 17-Jan-13 20:55:36

RE GCSE is a nice GCSE to do in that it doesn't have any controlled assessments, so not too much work. There are a lot of different options on the course, DD's school did about the most Christian focused ones they could find (including one on St Mark's Gospel) and still enjoyed it even as an atheist as they spent most of the lessons debating the issues. For the exam questions as long as you argue your case clearly you can answer from any viewpoint. Given the cultural bias towards Christianity in this country I think it's a worthwhile qualification to have which helps you to see issues from other peoples perspectives. It also helps develop written skills too. Schools make the exam compulsory because children tend not to take the lessons very seriously if they're not examined.

scurryfunge Thu 17-Jan-13 21:05:11

Agree with Glaurung.
Any subject is worthy of study if it encourages questioning and develops debate.
I did RE in the early eighties at school and although it wasn't my cup of tea, I enjoyed the discussion and morality issues ( was forced to switch to RE after not doing very well in Computer Studies- remember when you had to learn to actually programme computers!).

Copthallresident Thu 17-Jan-13 21:30:58

DD2 did Religion and ethics GCSE (it wasn't compulsory) and found it fascinating and now is doing Philosophy A level. She has strong views on faith, as in holds it accountable for a multitude of sins, however she even found the St Marks Gospel fascinating and really enjoyed ethics. One beware, so called revision sites that look independent but are actually only presenting the Catholic point of view.

I wish DD1 had done it, she is a Scientist and ethics is taught as an important compulsory module on her degree course, it would have got her used to thinking through the issues.

I know a lot of faith schools have it as a compulsory GCSE and since you know that when you sign up, you can't really moan.

Veneto Thu 17-Jan-13 21:46:34

DD did RS GCSE and really enjoyed it. Is now in Lower Sixth and has chosen it as one of her a-level subjects and is talking about doing philosophy or theology at uni. We aren't a religious family, but she just finds it really interesting.

Jux Thu 17-Jan-13 22:17:13

It's not a CofE school. If it had been a faith school then I certainly would have expected it - even if I'd had my worst ever duh-brain on grin

Scurryfunge, we didn't learn how to programme computers at school! Mainly because at that time, computers were massive great thing kept in special rooms full of anti-static mats, using tape or punched cards, and no one except science fiction writers believed that anyone other than serious specialists would need to know how to do it.

In fact, I did train as a programmer a few years after I left school; but even then they were machines kept in separate rooms with anti-static mats etc. we had a floppy drive which you loaded from the top having climbed up 3 steps to get high enough, the floppy itself was about 18 inches in diameter and 6 inches thick! I had to carry it in two hands as it was far too heavy to pick up with one! we had compiter programmers, computer operators and data entry (girls), and everything was batch processing. grin Those were the days!

gobbin Thu 17-Jan-13 23:27:02

My boy has the most fantastic RE teacher. They all do the GCSE during the compulsory lessons.

I'm sure two yrs ago he wouldn't have considered taking it further but the philosophy and ethics aspect has really flicked his switch, to the extent that he's chosen it for A level (with Chem, Phys, Geog).

With good teaching it can be the most fascinating subject and really develops thinking skills.

Copthallresident Fri 18-Jan-13 08:27:05

Jux Sorry that looked personal but it was a general rather than a specific you blush Actually when looking at schools I thought that was a negative to the faith school, when actually in the end DD did it voluntarily....

DS1 did RE GCSE. He hates religion and is strictly a born again atheist but loved RE. The philosophy and ethics was a real stimulant to class discussion and debate.
However the full GCSE is normally 4 exams. If they do 2 exams it's probably the short course which counts as half a GCSE.
One hour a week isn't really enough time to do the full course and DS, along with 2 or 3 others chose to do the full course in after school lessons.

glaurung Fri 18-Jan-13 13:09:00

secret, several boards do short course RE as one exam and long course as two.

glaurung sorry I should have thought about different boards. It was the one hour a week that made me think that it was the same as DS.
I know RE teachers often feel they get a raw deal on lesson time, I know that at DS's school lots of pupils got pulled out of RE to do booster classes in English or Maths close to GCSE time.

glaurung Fri 18-Jan-13 14:09:22

No apology needed secret - it was a good point to check if it was long or short course, just not quite as simple as looking at the number of exams.

MoreBeta Fri 18-Jan-13 14:16:24

I got a GCSE in RE some 35 years ago and it was a lot like English Literature combined with Ancient History. Jolly interesting and quite an academic subject. Glad I did it and still remember much of the discussion about Synoptic Gospels.

I used to go to church 8 times a week in those days though. Funnily enough I just started accidentally going to church 4 times a week after a very long break.

gazzalw Fri 18-Jan-13 14:41:19

I think RE is just the type of subject that should be core to their GCSE choices.It is about philosophy and morality and getting the children to think a bit more creatively and outside the box about issues that affect as individuals and in the wider society too....

DS has started secondary school with an anti-RE stance but from what they've studied so far I can say that I approve and I'm an out-and-out atheist....

fairylightsandtinsel Fri 18-Jan-13 21:56:37

As an atheist RS teacher this is a very encouraging and positive thread. In my current (private) school RS is an option but in my previous (state) school, we did exactly what the OP is saying, meet the gov requirement and make it worthwhile. Before that, it was compulsory but the kids just couldn't see the point and classes were nightmare. Generally, they do all enjoy it and learn useful debating and essay skills.

chloe74 Fri 18-Jan-13 22:48:55

morality, ethics, debates, essay's etc are all good, so why not have a philosophy class?

Its the religion that is the problem. How much is taught about Mormonism, Scientology, Humanisim, Wicca, Buddhism, Shinto, Pastafarianism, Jedi, creationism etc? when you force them to do a Judo-Christian curriculum its all about state indoctrination for some schools and grade inflation in others.

Religion shouldn't be allowed within a mile of state schools, at best its a waste of time and at worst its abuse.

sashh Sat 19-Jan-13 08:18:17

Scurryfunge, we didn't learn how to programme computers at school!

Some of us did. 1 Commodore Pet to a class of 16 with a day trip to the local college to program with punched cards.

In the second year of the O Level we got a second machine with a floppy drive, you had to use one floppy to boot the system and then a second one for your programming.

cuggles Sat 19-Jan-13 08:31:10

Chloe74...I teach Rs in a state school and am a committed atheist. Perhaps you are a bit out of date or unsure or your facts because, for a start, Buddhism is one of the six major world religions and therefore a key part of any curriculum and I also teach about Scientology, Rastafarianism, Wicca etc as you would it you are teaching about todays's world. I also teach about key people who have changed the world regardless of their religion such as Che Guavara and MLK. The course is very very wide ranging, not Christianity centric, although as a major religion and a big part of understanding the history of this country and indeed the world, of course it gets a good chunk of time and most of relevant to today's world. This is a very positive thread other folks thankyou. Chloe..maybe take a look before you call RS abusive,just so you have a little knowledge behind your posting!

cuggles Sat 19-Jan-13 08:34:16

Excuse the typos...posting from phone with three yr old wriggling on lap but needed to get that out!

sassh I did that hole punching program writing thing too and that was in 1974 grin
cuggles DS had an inspiring RE teacher, also self confessed atheist. Perhaps that's somehow helpful in that you can teach along the lines of "this is what these people believe" without any religious agenda of your own. Different in a faith school perhaps?

cuggles Sat 19-Jan-13 12:57:43

secrets - very good point actually, never looked at it like that! smile

Jux Sat 19-Jan-13 18:59:04

Thanks everyone. The debating and ethics is certainly an huge positive. Think what I am worried about - a bit - is that dd is a follower of a very minority religion, and the school have already objected to it. Moreover, her tutor and HoY have said they are committed Xians; they clearly have found it quite hard to cope with dd's beliefs. She has been told not to talk about it in school, though her RE teachers, and many other teachers, are very interested (and there are others of her religion in the school too).

I suppose, I was worried that she would be Evangelised at and proselytised at, but on reflection, it is only her tutor and HoY who seem to have a problem.

I also thought she might be able to do another subject at GCSE instead if she didn't do this, but as it's only half-time she obviously can't. There are soooooo many GCSEs she wants to take, and is really cross she's limited to 10 (though it may be 11 in the end).

It's interesting. I took O levels in 1973 (I think, long time ago, not entirely sure!), was at a Catholic school run by nuns, and RE wasn't included in our O level choices at all, none of us did it confused

chloe74 Sun 20-Jan-13 22:17:33

cuggles - I think you are a bit confused, I was responding to the OP where she is talking about the Christianity centered RE in her particular DD's school.

If the subject is as diverse as to cover ethics, morality, debate etc then it should be called a philosophy class. The reason being that some schools use it to push one (their) religion aka indoctrination. I wonder how many atheists teach RE in Catholic schools? The teaching of morality is to important to be linked to Religion.

fairylightsandtinsel Sun 20-Jan-13 22:18:18

Any RS teacher who evangelises in class should be struck off. It is religious EDUCATION, not indoctrination. I am an atheist, my head of dept is the school chaplain, we both teach all six major world religions in the sense of teaching what the hundreds of millions of people in the world believe and how it influences their lives. Chloe74, do you really want your children to have no clue about this aspect of humanity and what it does (for good and ill)? This is why a straight philosophy class is not the same, though i would happily teach one as well as RS if the timetable would allow it.

chloe74 Sun 20-Jan-13 23:26:07

good point fairylightsandtinsel. I most certainly do want my DC to learn about world views, however doing it through the lens of religion is part of the problem. To say all people who ticked 'christian' at the last census believes the historical morality any church espouses is just incorrect. Most Christians have different views on morality, so I cant see how it helps to teach them what 'Christians' believe is right or wrong is, their is no such thing. Might as well teach them what: the Spanish, the communists, the American gun lobby, the disabled, the mentally insane... think morality is.

Teaching children how to determine what is right and wrong is a very important subject and should not be tainted or influenced by any religion. I am actively doing that with my DC and when he grows up and encounters other cultures I hope he will have the intelligence and morality to determine whether an particular individual is doing the right or wrong thing irrespective of how they justify it using religion, politics, race, ethnicity, culture, etc.

Why is it acceptable to have a Chaplin in charge of the RE department and not someone who is a member of the BNP? Surly a prerequisite to teaching morality should be non bias to any religion/group!

Copthallresident Mon 21-Jan-13 00:01:44

chloe74 But right and wrong are subjective concepts . They arise from a context and that includes religion, race, politics, culture etc. I am an academic specialising in area studies and one of the reasons we value the religion and ethics GCSE is that already students will have got used to looking at those contexts and understanding different perspectives. What you are teaching your son arises from your belief system, western liberalism perhaps? A belief system that sprung up in 18thc Europe. Not surprising that whole swathes of the world are not signed up, what our world desperately needs people who can understand the different perspectives on right and wrong.

Jux Mon 21-Jan-13 08:19:34

I've never heard of area studies, Copthall. It sounds interesting. Does it fall into a wider subject area, for instance Philosophy? DD is primarily a historian (specialising in Egyptology!) but is also shaping up to be strong in chemistry. Her english and literacy skills are fantastic too, and she seems to be a bit of a linguist (this is what the school tell us too, not just fond parental assessment).

While at present she still wants to specialise as an Egyptologist (has wanted that since she was 3), I am thinkinh ahead as to how she might achieve that, but also what other possibilities there are for her.

Copthallresident Mon 21-Jan-13 14:18:01

jux Area studies look at a particular area or culture and then study the different disciplines within that context. It actually has a academic tradition, the sinophiles etc, but academia these days questions the traditional boundaries between disciplines as often there is much to study in between, Cambridge for instance does a Natural Sciences degree , rather than the traditional individual Sciences, although you specialise there are chances to study not just areas of Science but economics, philosophy and ethics etc alongside. Egyptology like classics could be regarded as area studies, since the past is another country and they take a similar interdisciplinery approach, However there are excellent area studies courses focusing on the Middle East, America, China etc etc where your daughter would get to study language alongside history, literature, religion etc etc etc Both the Oxbridge and SOAS courses would give you a good idea.

Jux Mon 21-Jan-13 15:29:10

Thanks, Copthall. It does sound fascinating. When I was at Uni everything was very separate, even within a discipline, for instance different aspects of psychology hardly seemed to touch each other. I know that that has been changing, and am glad to hear that that change has gone so far.

I will look at Oxbridge and SOAS, dd may be very interested thanks

Copthallresident Mon 21-Jan-13 16:22:43
goingmadinthecountry Mon 21-Jan-13 19:33:39

Mine loved it and 2 have carried on to A level - RE and Philosophy is great for discussion, essay writing, thinking things through. Helps dd1 with her law degree and lots of fascinating links. She even thought of doing a philosophy degree and is in a philosophy society.

If it's well taught, it's brilliant.

Jux Mon 21-Jan-13 22:38:26

Thank you Copthall, again. Very interesting links. I particularly liked the language paper, as (I think!) I could actually do it, but I haven't checked the answers yet; it was fun anyway. I've printed it off for dd to have a look at as she has a great interest in languages, made up one of her own (and a script to go with it, which she still uses for her diary) when she was 8ish as you do, though I doubt it has a particularly full vocab.

She says she would like to go to Oxford, hates London so SOAS is out for the moment (shame, as I have loved SOAS for years, for no particular reason). Still, plenty of time for her to change her mind. She'll probably suddenly decide she'd rather be a hairdresser or something (and people will always want their hair cut, so it's a secure job).

Kids. Who'd 'ave 'em? wink

Copthallresident Mon 21-Jan-13 22:45:13

Jux It is a wonderful place but a bit of an alternative undergraduate experience. Makes you want to go yourself though, doesn't it? wink

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