Most people think politics should replace religious studies in schools, poll shows

Founder of political youth platform says religion should be taught as part of history 'but not as a standalone subject'

Will Hazell

Will Hazell

Many primary teachers have not had sufficient RE training, says teaching body

Nearly three-fifths of the British public believe that religious studies should be replaced by politics at secondary school, a survey suggests.

The poll showed that more than three-quarters of participants felt they had left school with little or no political knowledge.

In the survey of 2,000 people, commissioned by the political youth platform Shout Out UK, 92 per cent said they believed politics should be a compulsory subject in the national curriculum, with 57 per cent of respondents saying it should replace religious studies. 

According to the survey, many people felt they would have benefited from learning more about politics at school.

Some 78 per cent of participants felt they had left school with little or no political knowledge, with 84 per cent stating that most of what they knew had to be learned from sources outside education, such as family and the internet.

Only 36 cent of respondents between the ages of 18 and 25 said they understood how the voting system worked, with 58 per cent saying they had previously mixed up voting for a local MP with voting for the prime ministerial candidate in a general election.

Religion 'shouldn't be a standalone subject'

When asked the question, “Do you think having knowledge of British politics would have helped you after leaving school?”, 77 per cent answered yes.

Of the people asked, 81 per cent thought politics should be a compulsory subject at secondary school level, and then become an optional subject at GCSE and A level.

Matteo Bergamini, founder of Shout Out UK, said it was “baffling” that politics had been overlooked as a compulsory area of learning.

“How can we expect the young people of this country to engage with the system in the long run when not even half know how the voting system works?", he said. 

“People talk about the disconnect between young people and politics in the UK – I think that teaching it in schools is the first big step towards fixing this.”

Mr Bergamini also said it was “fantastic” such a high proportion of the public wanted to replace religious studies with politics.

“Religion has shaped our country and deserves a place in the curriculum as part of history, but not as a standalone subject,” he said.

“There are far more important things to learn, like how our democracy works."

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