Nearly half of trainee primary teachers have three hours or less instruction in religious education, a teaching body has found,
The National Association of Teachers of Religious Education (NATRE) is warning that poor RE lessons threaten the UK’s “cohesion”.
Its research found that a third of primary teachers who started in the past five years have no RE qualifications at all, not even a GCSE.
And 30 per cent of the 500 primary teachers surveyed said they had been given no subject-specific training in the past year. More than half said their schools have a TA taking at least some RE lessons.
NATRE chair Ben Wood said it was “disheartening to hear such news, but not surprising”.
“We know there are wonderful examples of high-quality RE going on in primary schools, with excellent teachers who use the subject to help their students grow up with a broad understanding of, and open-minded attitude to, the world and the people who inhabit it,” he said.
Drop in RE entries at GCSE
“But we also know that there are too many students who don’t get the quality of RE they deserve and are entitled to receive. This not only risks students’ own futures but also the future cohesion of our wonderfully diverse country.
A sharp 13 per cent fall in the number of students taking RE at GCSE last year has triggered calls for the curriculum to be reformed.
In response, secular charity Humanists UK called for the subject to be made “more inclusive and relevant in modern Britain”.
Academics have also argued that lessons about Jesus should explore his Jewish identity and how Muslims see him as a prophet.
In the NATRE survey, one in six schools reported incidents of pupils being withdrawn from RE, mostly because of their faith or non-religious worldview.
“It angers me that young people are being denied an important part of their education, that colleagues are losing their jobs, that the superb examples of high-quality RE in some schools are not replicated in the school down the road and that government speaks warm words about the value and importance of RE, but then does little to correct the situation,” Mr Wood said .