What is being taught in Religious Education classes in Northern Ireland and to what extent should states be concerned about regulation, quality and control of the subject?

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

    Abstract

    This paper reports on a research project designed to discover what schools are teaching in Religious Education in Northern Ireland and what procedures are in place to maintain standards in the delivery of the subject. A search through literature shows that little research has been carried out to determine what is being taught in Religious Education in Northern Ireland. It also indicates that there are very weak systems of control to measure the effectiveness or quality of what is delivered. A survey of the websites of all Post-Primary schools in the region was used to provide some answers to the basic question of what is being taught in RE. Using content and discourse analysis of these alongside supporting documentary sources (textbooks and exam specifications), it is possible to get a clearer picture of how the Northern Ireland Core Syllabus for Religious Education and any additional curricular elements are delivered in schools. The findings show that a significant minority of schools do not publicly articulate what pupils do in religious education. In situations where the content of religious education is made clear, some definite trends are evident. Despite the existence of a statutory core syllabus, there is significant variation in what is taught in schools. The content is most divergent from the syllabus in relation to the teaching of World Religions at Key Stage 3 and at Key Stage 4 whole elements of the syllabus are neglected due to limited conformity between the syllabus and exam specifications. These results raise important questions about the systems of regulation and control of the subject in the region. In law the subject is exempt from formal inspection by the local inspection authority; instead, a form of inspection is allowed for by the Christian churches who design the syllabus, but it is a process that is either entirely neglected or entirely unreported in situations where it does occur. It is argued that these findings raise questions of more general concern for this and other regions in Europe where the teaching of religious education is largely unregulated. For example, to what extent should states take an interest in what is taught in religious education, how it is delivered, what values it promotes and how standards of teaching and learning in the subject are upheld?
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusUnpublished - Sep 2015
    EventBERA Annual Conference 2015 - Queen's University Belfast, Belfast, United Kingdom
    Duration: 15 Sep 201517 Sep 2015

    Conference

    ConferenceBERA Annual Conference 2015
    CountryUnited Kingdom
    CityBelfast
    Period15/09/201517/09/2015

    Keywords

    • religious education

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