Northamptonshire students lose faith in GCSE religious studies as uptake drops massively

The number of students in the county taking GCSE religious studies has dropped by more than three quarters in just two years.
The number of students in the county taking GCSE religious studies has dropped by more than three quarters in just two years.

The number of pupils in the county taking religious studies GCSE has dropped by more than three quarters in just two years.

A total of 1,653 students took the subject at GCSE last summer, compared to 7,650 in 2016.

The stark figures have been revealed in a report by the Northamptonshire Standing Advisory Council, which promotes RE standards locally and agrees the local syllabus.

The number of A Level entries between the period has also dropped from 199 to 157 in the same period.

The report, which will be considered by Northamptonshire County Council’s full council next Thursday (June 20), says: “Greater efforts need to be made in engaging with more secondary schools across the county to help share good practice and support schools in the GCSE and A level exams.”

It also says that going forward network meetings need to include more schools and cover a wider area of the county.

The drop in take-up of the subject for GCSE is line with a national fall in the number of Year 11 students taking exams in religion. Many schools now promote the Ebacc qualification which is made up of English, maths, science, a humanities subject and a language.

The Religious Education Council has expressed concern at the decline and says there are not enough consequences for schools that do not meet their legal obligation to teach the subject.

By law, every local authority has to convene a SACRE four times a year.

The county council is, however, reducing the funding it provides to help run the SACRE from £8,000 to £2,000. A religious adviser will be replaced with lead teachers to promote RE.