Religious studies to be made tougher to prepare students for modern life in Britain – Cambridge News

Religious studies at GCSE and A-level will be made tougher under Government plans.

Education Secretary Nick Morgan said the “more academically rigorous” GCSE will “better prepare students for life in modern Britain”. She said:

“It is of paramount importance that young people understand the central importance of religion in Britain’s cultural heritage and high quality religious education in schools is key to achieving that. Every major faith group agrees that the current religious studies GCSE fails to do this. That’s why we have developed a new GCSE that, while protecting the right of faith schools to focus primarily on their own religion, will require students to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the diversity of religious beliefs in Great Britain.”

Pupils must study at least two religions for the first half of the GCSE, while the second half sees them study one or more in greater depth. Students can choose from Buddhism, Catholic Christianity, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism. There is no option to study humanist or non-religious views.

The A-level will be linear so there will be more time for students to “develop a deep understanding of their subject” with the reform process giving universities a “greater role in the design and development of the new qualifications”.

Stuart Nicholson, the principal of Cambridge Centre for Sixth-form Studies, said it will be a challenge for schools, but it will be worth it.

“The Government is explicit that A-levels are to prepare students for undergraduate study. In the consultation document for RS they highlight the concerns raised by those teaching in higher education that the current A-level fails in that preparation, both in its breadth and in its depth. With the clarity of purpose now expressed for A-levels, the views of those teaching at degree level must be allowed to guide those of us preparing students at A-level. It is quite possible that the content might be regarded as harder, but that does not imply that we shouldn’t expect students to learn it, nor does it necessarily imply that final grades will be lower.

“That, of course, all depends on grade boundaries and marking schemes. The intention to make the course provide a more holistic understanding is surely an admirable aspiration for an A-level in any subject and whilst the timings for these changes are a challenge to us in the sixth-form teaching world, the teachers I know are equal to the task and students will enjoy the challenges too.”

Teaching towards the new qualifications are due to start in September 2016. The consultation closes on December 29.

Cambridge News

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