Research into public perception of an education in religion and worldviews

Most teachers of RE are aware of polls that have been reported in recent years that appear to suggest that our subject is not understood or valued by a significant proportion of the general public. When these polls have been discussed by the NATRE executive, members have questioned the methodology behind these polls, particularly issues created by people making assumptions about the modern aims of RE. When some people respond to questions about RE, they answer based on their own school experience of RE, several decades ago and not on the current generation’s .

In summer 2021, Culham St Gabriel’s Trust commissioned research through Savanta to understand more about public perception of an education in religion and worldviews. The language used in the questions was chosen to try to avoid these misconceptions and to collect a more accurate set of data about what people thought about modern RE.

Katie Freeman, NATRE Chair commented,

‘NATRE are pleased to see that a high proportion of the parents surveyed believe that RE is an important part of the curriculum. It is also important to note that 73% of people surveyed believe that RE should provide young people with the opportunity to learn about other people, beliefs, worldviews and cultures. NATRE works hard to support teachers with subject knowledge information, CPD opportunities and teaching resources so that they are able to offer their pupils the highest quality RE possible. The RE community will continue to work to ensure all pupils receive this essential part of their education.’

You can read about the results of the poll here. To whet your appetite, here is one of the key findings:

Nearly two thirds (64%) of the UK adult population think that an education in religion and worldviews (or RE) is an important part of the school curriculum today, new research has revealed, with a further 65% agreeing that the subject has an impact on people’s ability to understand each other in wider society.