We have produced two baseline reports as part of phase 1 of the project:
Baseline Report 1: Setting the Context and Baseline Report 2: Public Perception: Student and Teacher Views.
Baseline Report 1 provides an overview of the existing reports relative to both Religious Education (RE) and to the perception of religion in public life more generally. Whilst the focus is on policy reports and those written by think tanks and RE professional organisations, mention will also be made of relevant academic work and of policy developments. The focus of the report is on England only.
This report focuses on the period 2015-2020 as a manageable five-year period for data collection, and with 2015 significant as the year in which three influential reports were published (see below). However, this context-setting report will also reference relevant pre-2015 reports and policy developments.
Reports are organised into three chronological periods:
1) Reports written before 2015 which point towards a growing crisis in RE
2) Reports written in the period 2015-2018 which call for significant changes in RE
3) The Report of the Commission on RE (CoRE) in 2018 and subsequent reports which focus on the implementation of its recommendations, including the new vision of Religion and Worldviews (RW).
This report ends with a fourth section focusing on RE/RS (Religious Studies) at the university level, including British Academy reports on Arts, Humanities and Social Science students, and on the status of TRS (Theology and Religious Studies), as well as reactions to these reports.
Whilst it must be recognised that many Arts and Humanities subjects, at both school and university level, are struggling with similar issues to RE, including exclusion from the EBacc (Art and Music) and lack of teacher investment and training, this report focuses only on RE.
Baseline Report 2: Public Perception: Student and Teacher Views
This report contains the data from surveys undertaken with students and teachers. The student survey asked current undergraduate students to reflect back on their experience of RE at secondary schools. The results show a positive perception of RE: 84% agreed or strongly agreed that RE is a useful subject; 72% agreed or strongly agreed that they enjoyed RE; and 70% agreed or strongly agreed that they personally learnt a lot from studying RE. The teacher survey asked RE teachers for their thoughts on the Commission on RE’s 2018 report, Religion and Worldviews: The Way Forward, as well as for their thoughts on the purposes of RE and demographic data. Most of the teachers had positive views towards the report but with some caveats and concerns.