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MPs join criticism of English Baccalaureate

By and on Friday, 29 July 2011

Michael Gove's EBacc initiative has been widely criticised (PA photo)

Michael Gove's EBacc initiative has been widely criticised (PA photo)

An influential committee of MPs has joined criticism of the Government’s new English Baccalaureate, saying it risks “shoe-horning” pupils into taking the wrong subjects.

The education select committee said in a report that the exclusion of RE was the most “hotly contested aspect” of the EBacc, but stopped short of criticising it.

It pointed to a survey, conducted by the National Association of Teachers of Religious Education, which found one in three secondary schools planned cuts to RE teaching.

Last week the Government announced that it was standing by its decision to exclude RE from the EBacc despite strong criticism from bishops and MPs and a petition that gained over 100,000 signatures.

Oona Stannard, chief executive and director of the Catholic Education Service of England and Wales, said she welcomed the MPs’ report and its “recognition that the exclusion of RE from the EBacc has undermined its place in the curriculum of many community schools and has led to indirect discrimination against many Catholic schools and other schools with a religious character”.

The report by the select committee said there was “concern that faith schools… are indirectly discriminated against” because of the exclusion of RE.

It quoted a statement by the Church of England Board of Education that said: “Church of England schools, many of which maintain a commitment to full course GCSE RS for all students, are now faced with an impossible choice. Keeping RE as part of the core for all students may well be seen as too risky.

“At the very least there will be extreme pressure on the timetable if RE is to be maintained alongside the acceptable English Baccalaureate subjects.”

Introduced last year, the English Baccalaureate is awarded to all students who achieve GCSE grades above a C grade in English, mathematics, science, a humanities subject and a modern foreign language. Subjects not included are art, music, ICT and religious education.

Since these subjects will not contribute towards the league tables for the EBacc, schools are encouraged to focus on the five core subjects, thus having a negative impact on subjects that are excluded.

The Catholic bishops of England and Wales shared their concern earlier this year. They said: “At a time of increasing religious and cultural illiteracy, effectively to downgrade RE seems unwise to say the least. We therefore urge the government to reconsider its decision and include RE in the EBacc.”

  • Dolly

    Why is the Roman church so beligerantly quiet on the isse of the EU which is nothing less than a communist entity in the making that seeks to crush free religion as the Chinese and Russian have sought to do?

  • Concerned Catholic

    I don’t see the exclusion of RE as an issue to be concerned about because, in my honest opinion, it is a useless subject.  I can honestly say that I learned nothing of worth in my RE lessons.  Despite the fact that England is supposed to be a Christian country, I learned almost nothing about Christianity in RE.  The teacher devoted 90% of her time to Islam.  By the time I left school, I could tell you all about the Five Pillars of Islam but I knew nothing about the basic tenets of Christianity. 

    RE is used to push a politically correct world view down the the throats of our children.  People need to have a basic understanding of world religions, but I think the Christianity should be given special status in all of our schools.  Religious Education should focus on the dominant religion of this nation.  

  • Lisa

    I think the exclusion of RE in the EBAcc is a positive step. 90% of pupils who attend Catholic schools are no longer Catholic when they leave, which means that the quality of RE provision is extremely poor. Therefore, I welcome the Government’s decision, as I believe it will lead to a greater number of vocations.

  • ann

    I agree with Lisa. It is much safer to send the kids to state scholls or homeschool them than send them to Catholic schools. The same apply to Sunday catechism classes.

  • Aisake

    I disagree to exclusion of RE from the educational curriculum especially in Catholic Schools. The church has an responsibility to teach all students regardless their faith and race as they go to a Catholic school they must taught on the faith of the Church and stop the discrimination of religious. It has been a sad back when Christian have accused one another on the basis ground of our faith. They have argue who are the first, true and  origin Church that Christ established here on earth. It was amazing but how they talk about others is a very disappointed factors in the sense we should be example to others if we try to have peace on all. I urge all Christian and all religious ,please let us build bridges rather than walls. 

  • Parasum

    “90% of pupils who attend Catholic schools are no longer Catholic when
    they leave, which means that the quality of RE provision is extremely

    ## That speaks for itself. The only decent Catholic schools seem to be those run by the SSPX – the “real” Catholic schools seem to be a disaster. Why can Catholic RE not be based on the CCC ? IT is supposed to be the basis for other catechisms, so where are they ? Abysmal Catholic education (IOW, the stuff children are subjected at present) helps to undermine, abort vocations to the priesthood and religious life, close seminaries, undermine society – the evil effects of it are incalculable. Quite apart from the danger of final damnation. No wonder there are people at meetings of “Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice” who despise the bishops. The SSPX bishops, by contrast, behave as Catholic bishops ought to – when was the last time a “real” Catholic bishop in the UK organised a Rosary Crusade ? But Bishop Fellay, who is the Superior General of the SSPX, has:

  • Jo

    The SSPX are HERETICS for goodness sake! They are not even considered “in communion” with Rome anymore. God help any child going to their schools.