23 August 2007
More than 171,000 GCSE students are opening envelopes to reveal their grades in Religious Education today, an increase of 7.2 per cent in those taking the full course since last year.
The course’s popularity means that the subject has held its position at the top of the chart of increases in entries (for full courses with over 100,000 entrants). It is also the number one short course option, with 56 per cent of those students taking short courses opting to take Religious Education as one of their subject choices.
Today's results also show that 7.8 per cent more students took the GCSE short course in Religious Education this year than last, representing an extra 21,240 students and taking the total to 292,491. The full course, usually studied over two years, was taken by an extra 11,442 students.
Nick McKemey, Head of School Improvement for the Church of England, comments: “This further increase, building on the 7.5 per cent rise last year, is evidence that more young people are fascinated by what they and others believe and how that affects their day-to-day lives. Ofsted have recently reported that RE contributes significantly to both academic achievement and personal development. While RE may have in the past been seen as an unusual option, this uptake suggests that students from all kinds of backgrounds are keen to engage with issues of community cohesion, diversity and religious understanding.”
Mr McKemey argues that the popularity of the subject adds weight to calls for RE to be fully integrated into the National Curriculum up to the age of 14: “Religious Education should not only be given due prominence in the compulsory element of all students’ time in school, as the Government has recognised, but it is becoming increasingly clear that a nationally agreed syllabus would help further improve standards and foster stronger community cohesion.”
The Church of England has posted prayers on its website for those receiving exam results this summer and considering their future options.