THE Cornishman who chairs the Religious Education Council for England and Wales says that greater emphasis on training teachers would help improve standards in the subject.
John Keast, OBE, a former mayor of St Austell, made his comments in the wake of a report by schools’ watchdog Ofsted that says that more than half of England's schools are failing pupils on religious education.
Its report accuses schools and the government of failing to focus effectively on the subject and says that six in 10 schools are not "realising the subject's full potential" in an increasingly globalised and multicultural century.
The report highlights low standards, weak teaching, weak examination provision and confusion about the purpose of RE.
In particular, it says the recent introduction of the English Baccalaureate measure for pupils who achieve grade C or above in English, mathematics, science, a language and either history or geography, ignores RE and has further marginalised the subject.
Mr Keast said the Religious Education Council had been warning "for some time about the poor state of religious education in many schools".
“The great problem is that too many RE lessons are being taken by people not trained to do so,” he said.
We need to invest in teacher training – the Government, parents and pupils are all agreed. It is a case of everyone getting together and making sure it happens.
"It is now vital that the DfE works with the Religious Education Council on putting things right. We can do better than this."
Mr Keast said the Religious Education Council would publish its own report and RE curriculum later in October.