Sunday, April 5   Sign in or Register
Evangelical Focus
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google +
  • Instagram
  • Soundcloud

Newsletter, sign up to receive all our News by email.

Which of these online initiatives should churches prioritise?



United Kingdom

Number of British students taking Religious Studies continues to plummet

A new report shows that from 2017 to 2018, the total number of Religious Studies pupils fell from 253,712 to 229,189. “These figures are very concerning”, education leaders, said.

AUTHOR Evangelical Focus LONDON 27 AUGUST 2019 17:35 h GMT+1
Photo: Jeffrey Hamilton. Unsplash (CC0).

A report by Liverpool Hope University’s Senior Lecturer in Education Dr David Lundie and UCL Institute of Education Research Fellow Dr Mi Young Ahn, revealed a drastic fall in pupils studying Religious Studies in England and Wales.

The number of pupils in England and Wales taking General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) Religious Studies full course has fallen for the second year in a row, down 10.4% against 2017 to 241,749.

The decline is greater in England than in Wales. The total number of schools in England participating in GCSE Religious Studies went from 253,712 students in 2017, to 229,1891 students in 2018.

Meanwhile, in Wales the equivalent figures are down by 4.2% to 12,560, although these come after last year’s record high.



All schools, including Academies, have a legal requirement to offer Religious Education at all key stages, but today’s figures suggest that this is not sufficient to ensure that all pupils in England get to study the subject at Key Stage 4 (pupils aged between 14 and 16).

The data also shows that 701 schools stopped offering GCSE religious studies altogether, with a noticeable distinction between secular and faith schools.



“Religious character is becoming increasingly significant, with 95% of students in Roman Catholic schools being entered for GCSE RS, compared with 68% in Church of England schools and only 30% in schools without a religious character”, the report authors said.

The researchers also identified a social difference between the schools that offer religious studies and those that do not.

“On social disadvantage, students attending schools with higher levels of Free School Meal entitlement (an approximate measure of students in poverty) are less likely to have the opportunity to take GCSE Religious Studies. This may suggest socio-economic barriers to accessing RS”, the study said.

However, “not all of this variation can be accounted for by the demographics of schools with a religious character. Even among schools without a religious character, there is evidence suggesting schools that offer GCSE RS have fewer disadvantaged pupils, on average, than schools that do not offer the subject”, it added.



“These figures are very concerning. There are now almost 200,000 fewer pupils studying for a qualification in RS than there were in 2011. This is particularly distressing given how popular the subject is with pupils and how relevant it is in today's world”, Rudolf Eliott Lockhart, Chief Executive, Religious Education Council of England and Wales (REC), said.

Lockhart believed that “it is time that the government engages fully with the recommendations and for it to take action to support high quality religious education for all pupils in all schools”.



Fiona Moss, Chief Executive Officer of the National Association for Teachers of Religious Education, pointed out that “this study shines the spotlight on the current system for holding schools to account, especially the English Baccalaureate”.

“Questions must surely now be asked, not only about the declining numbers, but also about whether or not this data supports the view that government systems often work against the interests of the very students they claim to be trying to support”, she concluded.




    If you want to comment, or


YOUR ARE AT: - - Number of British students taking Religious Studies continues to plummet
Jonathan Tame: Economy, looking back at the decade Jonathan Tame: Economy, looking back at the decade

The Director of the Jubilee Centre (Cambridge) analyses the impact of the financial crises on families, and the future of the workplace in a connected world, from a Christian perspective.

Jim Memory: Europe, looking back at the decade Jim Memory: Europe, looking back at the decade

Jim Memory analyses the main issues that have changed Europe in the 2010-2019 decade. How should Christians live in a continent that has lost its soul?

Julia Doxat-Purser: 25 years of EEA office in Brussels Julia Doxat-Purser: 25 years of EEA office in Brussels

An interview with the socio-political representative of the European Evangelical Alliance about how evangelical Christians work at the heart of the European Union.

Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation

Are Christians called to make a difference in environmental care? What has creation care to do with "loving our neighbours"? An interview with the Global Advocacy and Influencing Director of Tearfund.

Photos: European Week of Prayer Photos: European Week of Prayer

Christians joined the Evangelical Alliance Week of Prayer in dozens of European cities as local churches came together to worship God. 

Photos: Students at ‘Revive Europe’ Photos: Students at ‘Revive Europe’

Photos of the student conference that brought together 3,000 European Christians in Germany. ‘Revive our hearts, revive our universities, revive Europe’.

How should Christ's love inform your parenting of teenagers? How should Christ's love inform your parenting of teenagers?

Dave Patty shares about the notion of parenting children on God’s behalf.

What is a prayer meeting? What is a prayer meeting?

“Prayer is like a fire. One spark that someone prays should ignite a passion in someone else”. Mike Betts leads the network of churches Relational Mission.

Video: Highlights of ‘Revive Europe’ Video: Highlights of ‘Revive Europe’

A video summary of the student conference that gathered 3,000 in Karlsruhe, Germany. 6 days in 6 minutes.

Follow us on Soundcloud
Follow us on YouTube

EVANGELICAL FOCUS belongs to Areópago Protestante, linked to the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE). AEE is member of the European
Evangelical Alliance and World Evangelical Alliance.

Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.