Wake-up call over religious education

A damning report by MPs on standards of Religious Education teaching in schools should be a “wake-up call” to Michael Gove, the Church of England has warned.

An inquiry by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on RE found that more than half of those teaching it in primary schools have no qualifications in the subject.

In at least a quarter of cases it is relegated to teaching assistants who often receive little support, training or guidance, the MPs said.

They also found that there had been a “dramatic” reduction in support for RE teachers as a result of local funding cuts and the Government’s academies programme.

And the removal of bursaries for students training to teach RE has led to a “radical” drop in applicants, the committee added.

They concluded that this risks allowing a generation of young people to grow up in ignorance about religion at a time when Britain is more diverse than ever before.

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Too few qualified teachers mean one in 10 primary schools likely to miss language targets

A shortage of qualified teachers means that one in 10 primary schools believe they are unlikely to be able to deliver on the Government’s pledge to make learning a language compulsory for all seven-year-olds from next year. classroom setting

Almost a quarter (23 per cent) say they currently have no-one on their staff with language qualifications beyond GCSE, although some of these think they will nevertheless be able to deliver the required level of teaching.

“Schools have least confidence in their ability to deliver the more technical and rigorous aspects of language teaching – including reading, writing and grammatical understanding,” says a report published yesterday [Wed].

The findings emerge in the annual survey of language provision in schools published by the CfBT Education Trust which says that, while foreign language teaching is now a reality in most primary schools – there is a lack of consistency in both approach and outcomes, making it difficult for secondary schools to build on pupils’ learning.

Figures show a slight improvement in the proportion of pupils taking up languages at GCSE (41 per cent of pupils, up 1 per cent on the previous year) although because of a fall in student numbers, this is actually fewer pupils than before.

The report also finds that that opinion amongst teachers is divided as to whether the subject should again become compulsory for 14 to 16-year-olds. Compulsory lessons for this age group were scrapped by Labour nearly a decade ago.

Is it time for parents to go back to school?

Whilst the debate will continue for some time, the finger of blame is repeatedly being pointed towards poor parenting as a main cause for the recent unrest. A survey conducted by Harris Interactive for the Metro found that the negative factors most affecting youngsters’ prospects were poor parenting (84%) and lack of moral guidance (83%).

Schools have also been bought into the ring of blame with calls for more discipline, but interestingly the riots took place in holiday time.
So how do we address the lack of parenting skills and should parents alone be responsible providing the moral compass for young people? If good parenting can be taught, what is the role for education and when should it start?

One glimmer of hope on the academic horizon is the Government’s review of personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education, launched in July.  This will look at what should be taught at school such as ‘the importance of positive parenting’ and whether elements of PSHE should become part of the statutory curriculum. Whilst this may go some way towards building a more civil youth and improving their prospects, it still begs the question of whether parents should also be returning to the classroom.

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