Religious and Moral Education in Scottish Non-Denominational Secondary Schools: Policy, Priorities and Pupils

Scholes, S. (2019) Religious and Moral Education in Scottish Non-Denominational Secondary Schools: Policy, Priorities and Pupils. SERA 44th Annual Conference: Creative Visions for Educational Futures, Edinburgh, UK, 20-22 Nov 2019.

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A significant theme emerging from scholarship on Religious and Moral Education (RME) in Scotland is that it has occupied a precarious position within non-denominational secondary schools. One scholar has suggested that this is because schools and practitioners are flouting policy expectations (Matemba, 2015) and another has argued that RME practitioners are increasingly prioritising philosophical approaches and content rather than the strictly religious (Nixon, 2008; 2009; 2012). It is the aim of this paper to contribute to the debate regarding how RME practitioners in schools are engaging with current policy and curriculum demands. This paper adopts a qualitative approach and uses two sources of data. First, the findings of a practitioner enquiry that sought the views of RME practitioners in one local education authority, via four questionnaire returns based on extended response questions, will be shared and analysed. This will be contrasted and compared with forty-four school inspection reports, dating from 2014 to 2019. The inspection reports have been systematically searched for comments relating to RME, coded to highlight themes and analysed for key terms and trends. The primary finding of this paper is that practitioners are increasingly offering RME that, whilst not always epistemologically coherent or in line with expectations, is satisfying broader policy objectives linked to attainment and achievement. Subsequently, practitioners are attempting to transition the subject from a maligned obligation towards a dynamic curriculum area relevant to and valued by a range of stakeholders. Moreover, while inspection-related evidence has previously been used in the debate, the systematic analysis of inspection reports to comment on RME provision is an original contribution, and the opportunities and challenges of these sources will be highlighted.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Scholes, Mr Stephen
Authors: Scholes, S.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Interdisciplinary Studies

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