There are some disturbing paragraphs relating to moral education in the 199394 report from the chief inspector. Here are two of them: * Poor work in key stage 4 is particularly linked to the discussion of moral issues without any proper link to religious belief (page 7).
* In a few cases they (teachers in key stage 1 and 2) teach morality with little reference to religious knowledge (page 8).
The report, compiled from inspections by the Office for Standards in Education, makes it clear that the inspectorate relates religious education directly to moral education. However, the two cannot be so neatly connected. For example, problems concerning marriage, divorce and abortion are not, per se, religious issues but moral issues. Actually, drawing up lessons and worksheets for primary and secondary school classes in moral education is not difficult. But it is a highly specialised area of human understanding and society should not impose the added burden of preparing lessons in morality on to overworked teachers of RE.
No doubt the inspectorate and some committed religious believers would wish to moralise in the classroom. But this should not be confused with moral education. There is always the danger of RE teachers of a particular persuasion imposing their religious modes of conduct on to pupils. For the sake of education this must be resisted.
Unfortunately, because of the inspectorate's general lack of understanding in these areas, schools are criticised if they do not moralise within the context of RE. Teachers should be aware that such criticism is unjustified.
JOHN A SEALEY