Provision is patchy in primary but excels in secondary, it finds
With the spiritual development of pupils central to their ethos, Church of England schools might be expected to have a firm grip on the teaching of religious education.
But an internal review has found serious problems with RE, with the majority of primary schools failing to reach "good" standards of teaching.
A team of inspectors sent by the CofE to a cross section of schools found that among the 30 primaries visited, just 12 had "good or better" RE provision. Only one was judged as outstanding and teaching in five was deemed inadequate.
The survey highlights a lack of access to effective training in some schools and poor monitoring by governors. It also reveals confusion about the relationship between RE as a subject and schools' wider Christian ethos, which sometimes restricts the breadth of learning about Christianity "to a narrow diet of Bible stories".
The CofE defines successful RE teaching as covering Christianity and how it "shaped British culture and heritage", as well as a wider exploration of other major religions, faith in general and philosophical convictions.
Despite the disappointing outlook in primary, the report describes a "very positive picture" of RE in secondary schools, praising the high level of teacher expertise. Inspectors judged 21 out of 30 secondaries' RE provision to be good or better and it was outstanding in seven of the schools. However, they also highlighted "a tail of ineffective practice". Seven schools required improvement and two were inadequate.
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