Thursday, 20 November 2014

ALAN’S BLOG – The GCSE Debate: The ‘problem’ of philosophy and ethics – Alan Brine

This is Part 2 of my search to map the landscape of the debate around GCSE a little more and maybe help us come closer together in our thinking. (For Part 1, see: http://www.reonline.org.uk/supporting/re-matters/news-inner/?id=28351)

‘Problem’ is in italics – clearly there is nothing problematic about P&E. Indeed as Kate Christopher reminds us: ‘The only way is ethics!’

But we have a major problem with our traditional curriculum in England – it is defined by a set of subjects which have not really been refreshed or re-thought for decades. Up to the end of Key Stage 4 it doesn’t include any significant provision for philosophy, economic, politics, sociology etc. It is also resistant to cross-curricular working.

In recent years, as RE lost confidence in its traditional subject matter, it looked around for content that might prove popular and relevant. And as a result there has been a tendency to ‘dump’ issues-based and cross-curricular topics into RE.This process was accelerated by the Short Course (and for over a decade there have only been short courses!). It has also had an effect on the Key Stage 3 provision in many schools with a growth in GCSE-style issues-based courses in Years 7-9.


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