Confusion over R.E. textbooks

11th March 2011 at 00:00

James Conroy seems a little confused about RE textbooks in Scotland (TESS, March 4). His comments may well ring true for England, but not here.

GCSE religious studies is not generally taught in Scotland. And to my knowledge, there is no such thing as an RE textbook for Standard grade religious studies. All my own textbooks are for SQA qualifications at Intermediate 1, 2 and Higher.

There's certainly no "collusion" between me and the SQA - it's just a fact that teachers do not have money to throw around, and want textbooks for certificate classes which match the courses they teach. For many pupils, passing the exam is important, and if a book helps a pupil to do that, then it has served part of its purpose.

Despite this utilitarian function of school textbooks, in my own books I aim to follow the relevant SQA syllabus where appropriate, but also to widen out to help pupils explore religious, moral and philosophical issues in greater personal depth than perhaps the SQA syllabus allows. That said, my Curriculum for Excellence RME textbooks are not linked to any exam syllabus - they're simply useful to support the delivery of the experiences and outcomes in RME - which by definition could be based on topic areas entirely of the teacher's choice. The content of these books is all my own work and not chained in any way to any exam syllabus.

I agree with Professor Conroy that we don't want a set of RMPS textbooks which do nothing more than slavishly and mechanically address an exam syllabus, but I would point out that in Scotland that is not what we have.

Joe Walker, Author of RMERMPS textbooks for Hodder Gibson.

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