The Catholic Church has condemned the Clarke and Woodhead report on Religious Education claiming the Catholic community would find their recommendations ‘unacceptable’.
Commenting on today’s report, the Right Reverend Marcus Stock, Bishop of Leeds and lead bishop for Religious Education commented:
“Today’s report by Charles Clarke and Linda Woodhead appears to have little regard to the approach taken by the Catholic Church to the teaching of RE. Not only are their recommendations largely incompatible within our sector, they were compiled with the knowledge that the Catholic community would find them unacceptable; this was explicitly stated in their report.
“The recommendations in the report are unacceptable for two reasons. Firstly, that the State can impose a national RE curriculum, which would dictate what the Church is required to teach in Catholic schools. Secondly, the curriculum they suggest contains no theological content, which is at the core of Catholic RE.
“We accept there is a need to improve RE in all schools and Catholic teachers and academics have been actively contributing to this discussion, producing suggestions that would work within the plurality in our country’s schools sector, allowing for all schools to choose between RE as a theological discipline and Religious Studies as a sociological discipline.
“Catholic schools are the most successful providers of Religious Education in the country. This is because we take it seriously as a rigorous, theological academic subject. However, rather than look at the sector that does it the best they have opted for a reductionist approach which is exclusively sociological and has no consensus amongst RE professionals.”
Notes for Editors
There are more than 2200 Catholic schools in England and Wales
Catholic Religious Education is central to what makes Catholic schools uniquely Catholic. All Catholic schools are required to allocate 10% of all curriculum time to Religious Education.
There are two approaches to the teaching RE, the sociological Religious Studies approach which sees religious as a social construct and the Theological approach which studies the human response to the divine. Catholic schools study the latter.
20% of all entrants to RE GCSE come from the Catholic sector. That’s one tenth of school provision in the country providing a fifth of all the RE GCSE entrants.
Year after year Catholic schools out-perform the national average for RE GCSE by at least three percentage points.
Religious Education in Catholic schools whilst being predominantly theological covers all major world religions as well as the atheist critiques of religion.