13 November 2014, The Tablet

Beefed-up RS sticks to church teaching, assures CES

Work by the Catholic Education Service (CES) has ensured that changes to the Religious Studies GCSE syllabus to make it more academic, and compel the study of two religions instead of one, will maintain a Catholic ethos.

“Our partnership with the Government has enabled these qualifications to be both academically rigorous and in keeping with church teachings,” said Paul Barber, director of the CES, this week.

Catholic schools provided the largest number of candidates for both GCSE and A level Religious Studies, accounting for 25 per cent of the entries at GCSE and 20 per cent of those at A level.

Archbishop Malcolm McMahon of Liverpool, chairman of the CES, said of the proposals – which are now out for public consultation – that he welcomed assurances he had received from Education Secretary Nicky Morgan that the proposals would not undermine the autonomy of Catholic bishops to determine and inspect religious education teaching in church schools.

RE must make up at least 10 per cent of curriculum time in a Catholic school and is inspected separately under long-standing arrangements currently set out in the 2005 Education Act.

Many other faith leaders, including Muslim leader Maulana Muhammad Shahid Raza, Church of England chief education officer the Revd Nigel Genders, and general secretary of the Hindu Council UK Rajnish Kashyap, also welcomed the proposed changes.

Above: Archbishop McMahon. Photo: CBCEW

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