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Religious Studies is compulsory at GCSE?!

(58 Posts)
AnnaK Mon 13-Feb-17 18:46:03

DS is in Yr 8 and is choosing his options. RE is a compulsory GCSE subject. He hates it! And surely it is illegal? According to the Gov.uk website children can be pulled out of it in KS3.

DS is super bright, expected grades ranging from 7 to 9 in all subjects and would rather concentrate on something useful to his future.

Any thoughts on how to proceed? I really do not want him wasting his time on RE when it could be better spent elsewhere.

Many thanks!

tiggytape Mon 13-Feb-17 18:48:24

Schools must teach R.S by law even in KS4.
As such, most schools reason that, since they have to teach it, the students may as well end up with a qualification from it.

Parents can withdraw their child from R.E in KS4 just as they can at anytime. That doesn't necessarily mean though that you can insist on a particular other option - it may depend how the timetables are drawn up.

booellesmum Mon 13-Feb-17 18:51:28

DD'S school does RE in year 10 and it is compulsory.
She absolutely loved the gcse - much different to normal RE as is more about ethics. Even considering it for a- level and she's an atheist.
It is heavily essay based and is not seen as a soft/easy gcse at all. Wouldn't say a waste of time as helps them to formulate arguments which is very helpful later on.

Anasnake Mon 13-Feb-17 18:58:39

Have you looked at the GCSE syllabus ??
RE at GCSE is very ethics based - particularly if the school is non faith (Catholic schools follow different courses). Students look at issues such as abortion, euthanasia, the death penalty, ivf, life after death, genetic engineering, the ethics of war and politics. They have to look at Christian attitudes to these issues plus one other religion and atheist/humanist attitudes. (The Humanist society went to court to ensure their views were included).
I'm an RE teacher and an atheist (you'd be surprised how many of us are wink)

clary Mon 13-Feb-17 19:08:26

At the school where I work everyone does RE GCSE. They are not wasting time, as it is studied anyway (as others say, this is the law), and the school says, well, might as well do GCSE in it. They only have one lesson a week on it tho and a good number used to do the short course ie half a GCSE (not sure if this still exists actually!)

All schools do not do this - RE (or philosophy and ethics) is an option at my DCs' school, and the compulsory RE element for KS4 is covered in other ways (assembly, form time).

I suggest you find out how much time he would spend on RE lessons and pull him out if you want to. Ask them what he would be doing if you did this. My guess is not another GCSE, sorry.

Agree with others, Phil and Ethics is a really challenging GCSE and well worth doing. DS2 has seriously considered it and in fact put it on his form (in 4th place but still!) He loves the chance to argue the case for something and hear others' PoV.

Freddorika Mon 13-Feb-17 19:12:13

Dd loves gcse Re and is now doing and loving the a level. She's an atheist.

AnnaK Mon 13-Feb-17 19:15:20

I really appreciate your replies so far, thank you!

There are lots of issues here for me. He is a bright child with no interest in the subjects mentioned within the syllabus (thank you Anasnake). He is more of a computer science, maths physics person.

He is doing well with English, his written work is excellent, so there is no need for additional essay subjects.

He has two free choices, apart from French/ Spanish, History/Geography. Of these, he has chosen Spanish and History. He would like to do Music, Computer Science and ICT, but can't because RE is compulsory.

For him it is a wasted opportunity. He is finding that in the compulsory subjects, the behaviour is terrible because some of the kids don't care. This is unlikely to improve in a subject like RE if everyone is forced to study it!

And, for the record, we are Christian and go to church most Sundays, so the religious input is definitely there.

Freddorika Mon 13-Feb-17 19:20:23

Well there's not much point doing ICT AND computer science

troutsprout Mon 13-Feb-17 19:20:23

Dd's school have recently removed it as a compulsory gcse and they have to use up an option if they want to take it at gcse. It's a shame for her as she enjoys it ( likes debating and ethics) . Also she says the behaviour/ attitude of kids to the subject has gone down hill since the school made this move.

Freddorika Mon 13-Feb-17 19:22:22

and a good number used to do the short course ie half a GCSE (not sure if this still exists actually!) it exists at Dd2s school! She's currently having a dilemma over whether to take half or full RE

AnnaK Mon 13-Feb-17 19:25:27

Feddorika - Computer science is coding and creating software. ICT is learning to use spreadsheets, word processing, photoshop, ie actually using existing software. Both useful and entirely different.

titchy Mon 13-Feb-17 19:29:03

ICT isn't a GCSE anymore it's a BTEC. And a pointless one for a bright kid doing computer science. Ask the school how many hours a week they get on option GCSEs compared to RS - I bet RS is only an hour a week compared to 2 or 3 for all the others. So he has to do some sort of RS, unless you pull him out, but I can guarantee he wouldn't be able to do another GCSE if you did.

FWIW my ds is similarly minded, in a school that does compulsory RE GCSE. I think it's actually been good for him to think about ethics, euthanasia, abortion etc.

missnevermind Mon 13-Feb-17 19:30:04

My eldest did GCSE and a level RS he loved the subject. Especially at A level with all the debating. He loves the ethics and a really good argument.
I think he took it at A level as an easy option but it worked out as anything but.
He went to a Catholic college for all his exams and they were no different to going to a non faith based learning centre.

titchy Mon 13-Feb-17 19:30:23

You really don't need ICT! Most kids can do word processing, PowerPoint, etc without it, as can most adults.

TeenAndTween Mon 13-Feb-17 19:34:21

As others said you can withdraw him, but that almost certainly won't enable him to do an alternate GCSE.

Our school does short course RE in y10.

Other nearby secondary puts a parental signed off opt-out of RE on the options form. I would say this isn't really in the 'spirit' of compulsory RE the government(s) have decided on.

AnnaK Mon 13-Feb-17 19:39:39

To be fair, I didn't realise the subject matter of the GCSE. I assumed it would be more going round Mecca, 5 Ks of Sikhism etc. If it was framed as Philosophy and Ethics, that is a whole different ballgame!

Thanks all!

MrsT2007 Mon 13-Feb-17 19:39:51

It's usually a short course 1 HR a week in yr 10 with option to set on to complete full GCSE if they want?

Anasnake Mon 13-Feb-17 19:44:50

I think you'll struggle to do a different subject because it would need to be timetabled at the same time as RE and for the same number of lessons. We have 3 hours a fortnight for RE whilst option subjects have 5 so doing another subject isn't possible. If he doesn't do RE he may well end up doing nothing (private study ??) and end up one GCSE down on the rest of his year.

clary Mon 13-Feb-17 20:59:46

That's a bit sad OP that he has no interest in the ethics of war, euthanasia, abortion, death penalty, IVF - really? Surely these subjects would interest any bright child?

DS2 is mad about PE and keen on computing but he still has a view about all these matters.

Anyway. I agree, ask the school what it involves. There is still a fair amount of learning about other religions involved. If I were you I would steer him away from ICT which is not very interesting or challenging and towards Comp Sci and music, with history and Spanish he has a great set of options there smile

Allthebestnamesareused Tue 14-Feb-17 12:57:02

My son was at a school where RS was going to be compulsory but he moved schools for year 9 and it became optional. Having said Hurrah I won't have to do RS he then chose to do it as an option because it wasn't just about religion but about ethical questions people face today.

RS is counted as a humanity so if he only wants to do one humanity to allow him to do one of the other options he prefers it would be the history that could give way to allow this.

Sparklingbrook Tue 14-Feb-17 12:58:57

DS1's High School it was optional, DS2's it's compulsory. DS1 didn't want to take it at GCSE and DS2 doesn't mind, he likes the subject.

SherlockPotter Tue 14-Feb-17 13:01:55

Yes that is true! I do remember my school offering RS as a GCSE option, if you took RS as an option then you didn't have to do the compulsory course.

AlexanderHamilton Tue 14-Feb-17 13:04:20

I specifically chose schools for my children where it wasn't compulsory. For DS it is one of his most hated subjects. (34% in his end of year exam compared with 56-72%in his other subjects. He can stop it at the end of year 9 apart from a tiny bit of ethics as part of phse. He just does not get it.

For dd it is her favourite subject. She is predicted an 8/9 for GCSE & is strongly considering it for A level. It isn't compulsory though.

I strongly believe that it should be optional in the same way as other humanities are so children can choose according to their strengths & interests.

Sparklingbrook Tue 14-Feb-17 13:10:09

In the eighties RS at my school was Rural Science. grin

Sadik Tue 14-Feb-17 15:46:49

It is compulsory for school to teach RS - but there's no reason you can't withdraw your ds.
We withdrew DD from RS at the start of this year (yr 10) - there were various reasons which I won't go into here, but it wasn't a big deal, and school are happy for her and others withdrawn to have independent study periods in the school library.

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