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King, Carolyn (2012)
Languages: English
Types: Unknown
Subjects: V620
Governments world-wide consider education to be a priority, particularly in attempting to “deal with fundamental issues of economic well-being, globalization, climate change and social stability” (REC, 2007a: 2). England and Wales have invested large financial, physical and human resources in educational development within the last twenty years. Pluralism within Britain and across Europe highlights the significance of religion as a binding force relating to diversity and citizenship, and promoting community cohesion. The British government has a responsibility to ensure all citizens are treated equally and with respect. As we are a multi-cultural society, this includes citizens of all faiths and no faiths; the role of religion and belief plays an increasingly important function within communities and the wider social network.\ud A standardised or regulated approach towards Religious Education (RE) is common practice in most countries across Europe, but this has not been the case in Britain. Indeed, the 2004 curriculum ‘health check’ undertaken by The Religious Education Council for England and Wales (REC) revealed “continued curriculum incoherence in religious education … continued low standards relative to National Curriculum subjects … continued non-compliance with legal requirements [and] no consistent criteria … to check the quality of RE” (REC, 2007a: 3). The intention of the 2004 Non-statutory National Framework Agreement for Religious Education (NFRE) was an attempt to address these issues.\ud The NFRE is therefore seen as the vehicle that will promote teaching and learning of RE, encourage a “clear and shared understanding” of all faiths and no faiths, and cultivate spiritual, moral, and social development in young people (QCA & DfES, 2004: 8). REC (2007b: 4) argues that the NFRE “provides for the first time an agreed national rationale for the subject”. The REC propose that implementation of the NFRE will enhance the RE syllabus and also improve the quality of RE taught in schools.\ud This paper explores some of the findings from a four year empirical study that I conducted in Lancashire, England. The research set out to explore specifically the response of a sample of faith-based and community schools to the NFRE. The paper explores the extent to which the theoretical aspirations of the NFRE have been met within the sphere of religious education. The paper also focuses on how and why the NFRE was developed and subsequent evolvement of the policy from 2004 to 2012.

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