Volume 25 - Issue 1

Developments in Religious Education in England and Wales (Part 1): Church and State, the 1988 Education Reform Act, and Spirituality in Schools

By L. Philip Barnes

Setting the Scene

The churches can legitimately lay claim to having initiated the entire education system within England and Wales. From 1808 onwards the churches founded schools, trained teachers and organised the daily curriculum of many millions of pupils.1 Voluntary congregational giving largely funded the educational efforts of the churches although from 1833 onwards the state began to offer support for building costs and to insist that, where public money had been made available, inspection should follow.2 Only in 1870 did the State, recognising that the churches were failing to keep pace with population growth, reluctantly step into the educational arena. From this date onwards, under Mr Gladstone’s Liberal government, new Board Schools were founded, supported largely by money raised through local rates.3

Church and State collaboration

The story of education in the years that followed is one of the knitting together of church and Board schools into one integrated system administered through local education authorities. In 1944 the final convergence of these two types of schools into one system was achieved by Butler’s reforming Act of that year.4 The Act ensured the continued funding of the church schools within the state sector and a common religious policy across both types of school.5 Contrary to uninformed opinion the Act did not specify that schools within England and Wales should be selective. It only stated that education should be according to the abilities and attitudes of pupils and, at the time, this was interpreted as an endorsement of a selective system that eventually placed approximately 20% of academically able pupils in grammar schools and the remaining 80% in secondary modern schools. There was meant to be transfer between the two types of schools but this rarely happened and the third category, the technical high school, was intended to offer technical education for selected pupils, but few of these were built and in practice, it is reasonable to think of children as being assessed at the age of 11 and then allocated irretrievably to one kind of education or another. Social destiny was largely determined by the selection process at 11 plus since the best jobs were available to pupils from grammar schools and to university graduates and, in the early post-war period, only about 6% of the relevant age group received a university education.

Religious education was provided slightly differently in the various categories of church school6 but, in essence, there was a commonality between the great majority of schools within the state system.7 Each local education authority, making use of statutory procedures laid down by the 1944 Education Act, drew up or adopted an Agreed Syllabus. Because local representatives of religious bodies were on the syllabus-making committees, the idea was that the religious education offered in schools within a particular area would reflect local religious affiliations while avoiding the doctrinal distinctiveness of individual denominations.8 Thus, for instance, the history (but not the doctrine) of Methodism might be particularly represented in the syllabuses in use in the south-west of England.

Although the 1945 general election surprisingly produced a landslide victory in favour of the reforming Labour government, no one seriously questioned the apparently solid psychological findings in favour of selective education.9 Many of the Labour Cabinet ministers had themselves benefited from some form of selective secondary schooling and they saw no reason to question the system which had served them well. Economically the era was one where a mixed economy of public and private ownership seemed to offer the best guarantees of job security and commercial success.

Religious education in the 1950s, though carried out within the parameters laid down by agreed syllabuses, was largely seen as being confessional in aim, that is, intended to press the claims of Christ on the minds of young people. Britain was still thought of as a Christian country and when parents were surveyed many, even those who were not church attenders, still believed that it was important, often for moral reasons, that young people should receive Christian teaching at school.10

Secularisation, Social change and Schools

Of the many changes to Britain that occurred in the 1960s four are especially relevant to religious education. The first concerned the transformation of the educational system from a selective one into a comprehensive one. Complaints about the unfairness of selection had been made on a number of grounds: it was patchy since grammar school provision varied from one part of the country to another; it was inaccurate since some secondary modern pupils excelled academically; it was wasteful since it did not encourage the utilisation of a pool of talent within the secondary modern sector; it was socially divisive since middle-class pupils won the lion’s share of grammar school places; it was not prevalent in progressive Sweden or the economically successful USA. So, from 1964 onwards, the Labour government under Harold Wilson began to merge secondary modern and grammar schools into large comprehensive schools that were open to all pupils over the age of 11 years within a defined catchment area.

The second change concerned the arrival of immigrants to Britain from the 1950s onwards. The immigrants brought with them traditional but non-Christian religions.11 Consequently it was no longer possible to speak about non-Christian religions in the same bookish way or to defer teaching about them until the last year or two of secondary education. This change also brought with it a realisation that Britain was becoming plural. This notion of plurality is ill defined but the general idea is clear enough: whereas previously religious, social, cultural and moral values had been implicitly and often explicitly shared, there was now a diversity that conferred equal validity upon a variety of positions and, as a consequence, religious values were transferred from the public domain into the realm of private life.12 Pluralisation, then, had the effect of relativising religion while tacitly strengthening the position of secular neutrality.

Thirdly, Goldman’s research published in 1964 appeared to indicate that pupils in junior schools were unable to understand the Bible properly.13 The argument is simple though the interpretation of empirical data is more complicated and Goldman’s conclusions have since been severely critiqued.14 In essence Goldman contended that the Bible requires an ability to think abstractly for its understanding and that children under the age of about 12 years are incapable of this. As a result the Bible must be largely removed from the primary school and deferred till secondary education.

Fourthly, church attendance in Britain declined in the post-war era. Along with this decline was a similar decline in belief in a personal God. Survey figures demonstrate that as this religio-cultural change took place so also atheism increased.15 In brief, fewer people really cared about religious education in school. Most were at best lukewarm and even some evangelical Christians opposed the notion of morning assembly on the grounds that, where no believers were present in school to lead worship, what took place was organised hypocrisy and likely to inoculate pupils against real faith.

As a result of these combined factors, agreed syllabuses in the 1970s underwent extensive revision. In general many of then became slimmer and simply provided aims and objectives but left teachers free to use whatever classroom materials they thought suitable. In some cases local authorities produced bulky handbooks to accompany their syllabuses and the best of these handbooks were usually adopted by other local authorities, thus saving themselves the work.16 Other curriculum subjects were also adjusted though the mechanisms for making this happen were less specific and not legally defined. The most powerful influences upon curricula within secondary schools stemmed from the examination boards that were themselves influenced by the requirements of university entrance. There was therefore a drip-down effect from university entrance to A-level and then to O-level (now GCSE) and from there to the curriculum of 13 year-olds.

Religious education changed by stages and at different speeds in different parts of the country. The overt Christian aims gradually gave way to more general aims that stressed the importance of religion as a factor in understanding culture or in helping young people to find their own meaning in life, Religion was ‘explored’ and the importance of Christianity depreciated. Moreover, although non-Christian faiths had been delayed until the upper stages of secondary education, quite quickly, partly because of children from non-Christian backgrounds, non-Christian religions were introduced into the primary school where Christianity (if it had been banished after the Goldman era) was re-introduced but this time with a stress on phenomenological or descriptive approaches that were intended to be non-judgemental and almost invariably thematic.17

Church schools, however, continued to be numerically important, particularly in the primary sector. In 1995 there were, for example, 4,693 Anglican and 1,806 Roman Catholic primary schools together catering for 839,197 pupils, All in all about a third of all primary pupils in England and Wales are educated in church schools, a figure that indicates why the voice of the church in education, though often muted, is at least heard.18

The abolition of educational selection at the age of 11 produced vast comprehensive schools completely lacking in the pastoral care and academic monitoring that had been one of the features of smaller schools.19It came as no surprise that comprehensive schools appeared to be unable to maintain the academic rigour that had characterised grammar schools at their best. Religious education, particularly the old style found in Grammar schools, where bright children added another ‘O’ level pass to their collection by examination questions on the gospels, began to disappear. The arrival of comprehensive schools coincided with numerous cries about falling educational standards, particularly from parents whose children might have hoped to have obtained a grammar school education.20 Moreover, after 1979 when the Conservative Party gained power for what turned out to be 18 years of rule, connections were made between the poor performance of pupils in England and Wales and economic decline. Even if no direct causal link could be found between academic standards and Britain’s poor economic performance, employers who found children leaving school after ten years of compulsory education and unable to calculate percentages or fractions were vocal about the difficulties of accepting such pupils for jobs in commerce or industry.21

How should educational standards be raised? As the Conservative Party moved to the right during its long period of ascendancy, the principles of the market economy were increasingly applied to areas that had previously been deemed off limits. The mixed economic policies that had held sway since 1945 were thrown overboard and competition on an open market was thought to be the best way of ensuring the survival and prosperity of the fittest and the removal of the weakest.22 In order to make the competition between schools for pupils more rational, schools were required to teach a national curriculum. Again, the model that was employed was one that had been lifted from the commercial world. An efficient factory needs a production line and a quality assurance system; similarly, it was thought that a curriculum that was assessed and inspected, but delivered through schools that were competing with each other for pupils, would provide the necessary social engine to raise standards. Poor schools would go out of business as parents switched their children to better schools. Mediocre schools would feel the hot breath of a new breed of inspectors on their necks and be forced to respond to publicly reported criticisms with action plans designed by their governors.23

The inspection of schools had long been carried out by Her Majesty’s Inspectors (HMI) who were ‘the eyes and ears’ of the government minister responsible for education. HMIs had high status but tended to be ignored by teachers and public alike: they had no power to enforce change. As part of the standards-raising agenda a new body, the Office for Standards in Education (OfSTED), was brought into being during the Conservative period of power (in September 1992). The OfSTED inspectors were more rigorous and operated according to pre-set criteria related to the curriculum. Moreover, they were recruited from many walks of life in sufficient numbers to inspect every state maintained school every four years.

The major piece of legislation that crystallised this way thinking was the 1988 Education Reform Act (ERA).

The 1988 Education Reform Act

Commentators are agreed that this Act is the most important piece of educational legislation in the second half of the twentieth century. The text of the Act runs to four parts, nine chapters, 238 sections and 12 schedules but only part 1 (sections 1–119) deals with education in maintained schools.

Despite its length and complexity the basic ideas behind the Act were relatively simple. After an important introductory statement (see below) it introduced a new nationally controlled curriculum and a new type of school free from local authority control. Only religious education, having been established by statute within the 1944 Act, had to be dealt with separately from other curriculum subjects. These, which until that time had not been directed by any national legislation whatever, were now quite closely specified. Altogether three of core subjects (mathematics, English and science—with a fourth, Welsh, in Wales) and six foundation subjects (history, geography, technology, music, art and physical education) were stipulated. These 10 subjects (11 in Wales) formed the National Curriculum. When religious education was added the total package was referred to as the ‘basic curriculum’ (see section 2.1 of the Act).

The mechanism for producing agreed syllabuses is closely related to that which was set up by the 1944 Education Act but with significant differences to allow for the multi-faith or plural nature of British society. Non-Christian groups were specifically included as participants on the committees drawing up the new agreed syllabuses and arrangements for religious education were made more flexible to allow non-Christian groups to accept them. The control of worship within schools was also delegated to the conference (or Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education, SACRE) that drew up the agreed syllabuses so that, instead of simply coming into existence to produce the syllabus, the SACREs had a continued existence and a monitorial role.24

A new generation of agreed syllabuses came into being following the 1988 Act. One of the statutory bodies set up by the Act to give advice on the curriculum was the Schools Curriculum and Assessment Authority (SCAA) and during John Patten’s reign as Secretary of State for Education (April, 1992–July, 1994) two model syllabuses were produced, both of which were to be influential.25 The most revolutionary of the syllabuses took a rather different view of the materials of religious education from that common at the time. It took the view that the data of religion belong to the religious communities themselves and that theological concepts should help to construct and classify religious materials. In other words, it allowed religion to present itself rather than allowing educationalists to seize religious materials or ideas and to shape them together into themes and topics that appeared to have educational validity. A third model syllabus, one that was thematic in style, was rejected by Mr Patten much to the outrage of religious educationalists who felt that thematic religious education had the advantage of allowing religions to be dealt with in an undifferentiated, and therefore non-discriminatory, way. Nevertheless recent empirical research suggests that thematic presentations of religious education, when mixed with non-thematic presentations, are confusing to children and, with hindsight, it is arguable that Patten was wiser than he knew.26

The setting up of grant-maintained schools has been interpreted as a political attempt by the then Conservative government to weaken local authorities by preventing them creaming off public money that was earmarked to ‘follow the child’. In theory, as parents made their choices between different kinds of schools, more and more parents would have chosen well financed grant-maintained schools and the budgets of local educational authorities would have diminished until Whitehall had complete control over the entire education system without the mediation of local authorities controlled by local politicians. Whether this interpretation of events is accurate is impossible to say without access to confidential documents.27 But what is clear is that the Major government (1990–97) courted the church schools in the hope that they would en bloc leave the care of local authorities and thus, at a stroke, get rid of tiresome and purportedly the high-spending Labour-dominated fiefdoms.28

This aspect of the ERA has been sidelined since the Labour victory of May 1997. Three reforms remain: central government determination of the curriculum, the modernisation and retention of religious education as a separate subject, and the pursuit of spiritual development in schools. It is to this third matter we now turn.

Spiritual Development in Education

The child’s spiritual development, and education towards spiritual maturity, is of greater importance now than ever before in the history of our civilization.29

These words may have a surprisingly contemporary ring to them, though they were first written by Ronald Goldman in 1963. If the complete essay from which they are taken is read, however, it soon emerges that there are differences between Goldman’s understanding of spirituality and that to be found in more recent educational literature. For Goldman, spiritual development is specifically religious development and this in turn is chiefly concerned with ‘how the child grows in terms of his awareness of God’; the context makes clear that it is the Christian God which is meant.30 His view is that spiritual education is equivalent to religious education of a broadly Christian confessional form. In this identification of spiritual education with Christian religious education, Goldman is clearly reflecting the aims and intention of the 1944 Education Act.31 Provisions within the Act for confessional religious education and for daily acts of worship were intended to ‘contribute towards the spiritual … development of the community’.32 In a similar vein, the 1988 Education Reform Act also requires schools to promote ‘the spiritual … development of pupils and of society’.33 However, in the light of subsequent official pronouncements that are designed to give substance to the rather bald reference in the Act, it is clear that spiritual development is now more broadly and less religiously conceived.

If spiritual development is not a new theme in British post-war education,34 it has certainly increased in prominence and importance over the last few decades.35 There are a number of reasons for this. Renewed interest in spirituality in education undoubtedly reflects wider cultural interest in spirituality generally. Despite the continuing decline of institutional religion in Britain,36 recent studies of the frequency and nature of religious experience suggest that such experiences are quite widespread among the population at large.37Moreover, the period since the end of the Second World War has been marked by a significant expansion in the number and range of religious groups and movements.38 Within the context of religious education, interest in spiritual development indicates perceived weaknesses in the phenomenological approach to religious education (see Part 2 of this article). The accusation is made that phenomenological religious education deals only with the external, public phenomena of religious faith, in a strictly ‘objective’ manner, to the neglect of the human experiences and feelings (the ‘subjective’ side of religion) that give vitality and meaning to religion. Finally, interest in spiritual education has been politically driven. The last Conservative government and the present Labour government have both pursued policies that ensured spiritual development received a higher profile in education. Recognition of this raises the further question of why there is political support for a more rigorous and accountable approach to spiritual development than hitherto has been the case. A renewed focus on spiritual development is probably in part designed to assuage the voice of those critics, vocal since the eighties, who allege that religion is increasingly marginalised in British institutional life, particularly within the domain of education.39 More important still in accounting for political endorsements of spiritual development is the accumulating evidence of the positive effects of religion and spirituality both for individuals and for society in general. At a personal level, there is a close relationship between spiritual maturity and perceptions of personal-well being, expressed in terms of mental health, self-fulfilment, perceived contentment and happiness. At a social level, the spiritually mature are more likely to make a positive contribution to the community, and less likely to engage in anti-social and criminal activities.40 Quite simply, spiritually mature individuals make better citizens, and this is an end that is in any government’s interests to promote and further.

Spiritual Development: The Official Sources

Early in 1993 the National Curriculum Council drew up and circulated a discussion paper entitled Moral and Spiritual Education. Two years later the same document was republished by The School Curriculum and Assessment Authority and was used as the basis for a major conference on spiritual and moral aspects of the curriculum in January 1996.41 One outcome of the conference was a further discussion paper entitled, Education for Adult Life: the spiritual and moral development of young people (SCAA Discussion Papers: No. 6), that summarised its deliberations.42 Another outcome was the establishment of The National Forum for Values in Education and the Community. This brought together prominent educationalists, politicians, community leaders, and representatives from the different religions. A consultation exercise was undertaken in order to take account of public opinion on the role of schools in the promotion of spiritual and moral values; its results were published in December 1996.43 These initiatives, coupled with the announcement by the Office for Standards in Education that schools’ provisions for spiritual development would be inspected, served to underline the importance government attached to the spiritual and moral dimensions of human development.44

The original NCC/SCAA Discussion Paper on Spiritual and Moral Development has been widely influential. As the first official expansion of the references to spiritual development in the 1988 Education Reform Act it has naturally served as a focus for commentary and debate.45 At the outset it maintains that ‘[t]he potential for spiritual development is open to everyone and is not confined to the development of religious beliefs or conversion to a particular faith’.46 Spirituality is given a broad and wide-ranging definition. The spiritual

needs to be seen as applying to something fundamental in the human condition which is not necessarily experienced through the physical senses and/or expressed through everyday language. It has to do with the universal search for individual identity—with our responses to challenging experiences, such as death, suffering, beauty, and encounters with good and evil. It is to do with the search for meaning and purpose in live and for values by which to live.47

Beliefs, a sense of awe, feelings of transcendence, the search for meaning and purpose, self-knowledge, relationships, creativity along with feelings and emotions are then listed as aspects of spiritual education. While the document acknowledges the central role to be played by religious education and collective worship in the promotion of spiritual education, it also stresses that all subjects of the curriculum should be involved.

The framers of the NCC/SCAA Paper clearly wanted to distinguish spiritual development from religious development. Spirituality is regarded as something wider than religion, the former focusing on experience, creative awareness and human values, the latter on formal or institutional patterns of religious belief and practice. The distinction is a familiar one.48 The linking of morality with spirituality, however, is a more interesting feature, for it seems to challenge the assumption, influential since the late 1960s, that moral education should be advanced on an entirely secular and ostensibly rational foundation.49 Moral and Spiritual Development effects a kind of reconciliation between morality and religion in education by placing both within a wider framework of human values which it is the school’s duty both to uphold and to exhibit.50

This newly forged connection between moral education and spiritual development is probably best interpreted as an attempt to harness and utilise spiritual energies for socially positive (political/moral?) ends.51 There are merits to this, for example, recognition is given to the contribution of religion to personal and civic values, but there are also dangers. Spirituality could potentially be pressed into the service of some particular, politically endorsed social and economic agenda that has little to do with ‘good citizenship’ and even less to do with religion or spirituality.52 This is by no means impossible, given SCAA’s failure to specify any substantive content for spiritual education and its identification of spirituality with the ‘inner life’. Such an identification may serve to reinforce a subjective and reductionist reading of religion. It may also perpetuate the Enlightenment dichotomy between facts and values, objectivity and subjectivity, with religion consigned to the latter category in each case. Spirituality is effectively evacuated of meaning and divorced from the public domain of knowledge.53

Interpretations of Spiritual Development in Education

The heightened profile of spiritual development has met with the approval of those who see the introduction of spiritual education as a needed antidote to secularism within the school system54 and the disapproval of others, such as John White, who feel that the pursuit of spiritual values within state-maintained schools with a mixed religious and secular constituency is inappropriate. White also voices the criticism that the term ‘spiritual’ does not carry ‘any clear meaning’,55 a not uncommon complaint, compounded somewhat by the fact that no clear official guidance has been given about how spiritual development is to be advanced and achieved in schools.

The importance attached to spirituality in recent official literature coupled with perceived ambiguity regarding its content in these same sources has naturally stimulated a debate on the proper interpretation and purpose of spiritual development in education. This has resulted in a rich variety of proposals and positions. Some proposals stress the religious nature or potentially religious nature of spiritual development,56 others, while referring to religion, emphasise the ‘humanistic’ nature of spiritual values,57and still others advance an entirely secular interpretation.58 A more religiously neutral taxonomy of interpretations could distinguish between capability-orientated approaches that focus on the shared human dimension of spirituality rather than on particular traditions of belief and practice;59 knowledge-orientated approaches that focus on the intellectual and cognitive domain;60 and response-orientated approaches that attend to the particular and different responses people make to the spiritual dimension of life.61 The first category is broadly concerned with spiritual experience, the second with spiritual beliefs and the third with spiritual choices; thus corresponding to the affective, cognitive and volitional or conative aspects of the human personality. A helpful understanding of spiritual development has recently been outlined by David Smith.62 He identifies four ‘windows which open out onto spirituality’; spiritual capacities, spiritual experiences, spiritual understanding and spiritual responses. Perceptively, Smith remarks that ‘[p]eople’s own spiritual commitments will influence what views of spiritual development they will find most acceptable.’63 This in turn suggests that assessments of the relative worth of different interpretations of spiritual development will involve wider educational, religious and philosophical issues: there is no Archimedean point from which to judge contrasting or rival positions.

A number of writers have argued that spirituality provides the foundation for a broadly progressive, holistic education that focuses upon the child and his or her creative powers (over against a traditional knowledge based education)64 Spiritual intuition is believed to lie at the heart of not just religious commitment but of all authentic moral, aesthetic and educational commitments,65 In support of this position John Priestley quotes approvingly Alfred North Whitehead’s remark that ‘the essence of education is that it be religious’.66 Moreover, these same writers presume spirituality to possess an impartial and neutral quality denied to the different religions. Accordingly, it provides a vantage point from which the different religions can be assessed and judged,67 How well does this or that religious tradition expedite spiritual sensibility? This interpretation of spirituality has obvious attractions to some professional religious educators who are anxious to avoid the charge of religious indoctrination or confessionalism, while simultaneously wanting to present a positive view of religion in the classroom, Typically the different religions are (controversially, and in our opinion, illegitimately) interpreted as diverse cultural and personal responses to the same spiritual object.68 Such a conclusion, however, is notoriously difficult to maintain in the face of the contrary doctrinal claims advanced by the religions on the basis of both experience and (claims to) revelation.69

A worrying trend in some recent writings is the way in which spiritual experience is treated as an end in itself—what could be called its self-referential or self-reflexive character. Spiritual experience is valued for the satisfaction and pleasure that it provides for its subject, rather than for any insight it might reveal into human nature or the ultimate character of reality.70 The question of whether spiritual experiences carry deeper metaphysical import is conveniently ignored, and as a result spirituality is effectively evacuated of cognitive significance and its educational importance diminished. Occasionally this refusal to consider deeper religious and philosophical issues is prompted by the fear that controversy will be aroused. The tacit assumption is that controversial religious matters are best ignored in the classroom. A similar attitude lies behind much contemporary religious education’s refusal to engage pupils in the quest for religious truth and the way in which judgements of truth or untruth in this domain are to be assessed and evaluated. Given the different interpretations of spirituality and spiritual development that obtain in our (post-) modern plural societies it is unlikely that any common definition or understanding will emerge upon which education can build.71 Against this background the challenge for educators is to provide a workable account of what it means both to regard all pupils as spiritual (and therefore to be capable of spiritual development) and to grow spiritually (and thus develop spiritually), while at the same time exposing pupils to the diversity of spiritual beliefs and practices in such a way that they recognise the seriousness and the contested nature of the issues.

1 The British and Foreign School Society (Free Church) was formed in 1808 and the National Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church (Anglican) was formed in 1811.

2 The first grant was of £20,000 ‘for the erection of school houses for the education of the poorer classes in Great Britain’. F. Smith, A History of English Elementary Education 1760–1902 (London: University of London Press, 1931), 139. Annual grants followed, disbursed at the discretion of a special committee of the Privy Council.

3 There was a complex interplay between local and central government funding of education in the years that followed. Local funding through rates was subject to heated argument, particularly when some of this money was made available to church schools. Nonconformists, in the stratified society that was Victorian Britain, objected to the financing of Anglican schools. Board schools were so called because local boards ran them. They later became Provided schools and then County schools, but the point was that they were entirely funded out of the public purse. It should be noted that worship in school was allowed, even in Board schools, and that the teaching of religion was subject to a ‘conscience clause’ that allowed children to be withdrawn from it if their parents wanted.

4 There had been bitter disagreement between Anglicans and Free Churchmen (especially in Wales) over the funding of church schools envisaged by the 1902 Education Act. But during the 1939–45 war interchurch rivalry died down and Butler was able to bring about a masterly compromise that brought all the church schools into the same system.

5 The religious input to school contained a daily act of morning worship (in County as well as church schools) and religious education according to an agreed syllabus. In this respect the position of religion in the British education is quite distinct from that found in the USA, and we have given an historical perspective to indicate why this was so.

6 There were ‘aided’ and ‘controlled’ schools. Aided schools were aided by the state and so received less money towards their upkeep. Controlled schools were controlled by the state and received more money. The differentiation of governance was through the proportion of church appointees on the governing bodies of these schools. Aided schools had a majority of church appointees. All Roman Catholic schools were aided (apart from two that filled in the forms incorrectly). Church of England schools were more likely to be controlled, though in some dioceses the policy was to go for aided status. There were also a small number of ‘special agreement’ schools left over from legislation in the 1930s.

7 The ‘conscience clause’ introduced in 1870 continued, and continues to the present day.

8 Each syllabus was the work of four committees and each committee had one vote. Syllabuses were only agreed or adopted after receiving all four votes. One committee contained representatives of religious denominations, another representatives of the Church of England (except in Wales where the Anglican Church had no separate committee), a third teachers and the fourth the local authority. Committees made decisions by majority voting.

9 The now tarnished reputation of Sir Cyril Burt (1883–1971), London’s eminent educational psychologist, lent credence to the accuracy and reliability of mental testing of children aged 11.

10 P.R. May and O.R. Johnston, ‘Parental attitude to religious education in state schools’, Durham Research Review 18 (1967), 127–38.

11 For instance in the first ten months of 1961, 113,000 immigrants arrived from India, Arthur Marwick, British Society Since 1945 (Harmondswort: Penguin, 1982), 168. Between 1964 and 1969 entries from Pakistan, India, Ceylon and the West Indies exceeded departures by 226,000, Social Trends (London: HMSO, 1967), No 8. chart 3.17.

12 See B. Martin, and R. Pluck, Young People’s Beliefs (London, General Synod Board of Education, 1977).

13 Ronald J. Goldman, Religious Thinking from Childhood to Adolescence (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1964).

14 From a lengthy literature, the following is a sample: Kenneth G. Howkins, Religious Thinking and Education: a critique of the research and conclusions of Dr R Goldman (London: Tyndale Press, 1966); Nicola Slee, ‘Cognitive developmental studies of religious thinking: a survey and discussion with special reference to post-Goldman research in the United Kingdom’, in James W. Fowler, E.N. Nipkow and F.Schweitzer (eds.), Stages of Faith and Religious Development: implications for church, education and society (London: SCM, 1992), 130–46; William K. Kay and Leslie J. Francis and Harry M. Gibson, ‘Attitude toward Christianity and the transition to formal operational thinking’, British Journal of Religious Education 19 (1996), 45–55.

15 William K. Kay, ‘Belief in God in Great Britain 1945–1996: moving the scenery behind classroom RE’, British Journal of Religious Education 20 (1997), 28–41.

16 The Hampshire handbook was widely used outside the county.

17 Schools Council, Working Paper 36, Religious Education in Secondary Schools (London: Evan/Methuen, 1971) was very influential in the promulgation of the phenomenological approach.

18 Figures provided by the Department for Education and Employment and the Welsh Office for January 1995. The most important discussion of church schools in the post-war period was provided by The Fourth R. The Durham Report on Religious Education (London: National Society, 1970).

19 The Circular 10/65 (i.e. the 10th circular in 1965 of the Department of Education and Science) asked local authorities to submit plans for ‘going comprehensive’.

20 The Black Papers (that is, opposite to government White Papers) were published independently from 1969 onwards and contained sharp conservative and academic thinking on education. Authors looked at the philosophy of comprehensive schools, at relevant statistics and at the functioning comprehensive schools abroad and concluded that a selective system was inevitably better.

21 This was partly behind the Labour Prime Minister James Callaghan’s speech at Ruskin College in 1976. See James Callaghan. Time and Chance (London: Collins, 1987).

22 See for instance David Lawton. ‘Ideologies of education’, in David Lawton and C. Chitty (eds.), The National Curriculum, Bedford Way Papers 33 (London: Institute of Education. University of London, 1988); S. McClure. ‘Parents and schools—opting in and opting out’, in David Lawton (ed.), The Education Reform Act: choice and control (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1989).

23 Schedule 2 part 2 of the 1992 Education (Schools) Act requires governors to issue action plans for dealing with points made by inspectors.

HMI Her Majesty’s Inspectors

OfSTED Office for Standards in Education

SACRE Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education

24 Circular 3/89 pointed out that SACREs and agreed syllabus conferences were similar.

25 See Terence Copley, Teaching Religion: Fifty years of teaching religion in England and Wales (Exeter: University of Exeter, 1997), 178 f.

26 D.L. Smith and William K. Kay, ‘Religious terms and attitudes in the classroom (part 1): empirical evidence on how to avoid pupils’ confusion’, British Journal of Religious Education (in press).

27 Personal contact with the Inspectorate suggests, however, that it was so.

28 Priscilla Chadwick, (1997), Shifting Alliances: church and state in English Education (London: Cassell, 1997) discusses the dilemmas faced by the churches when courted by the Conservative government.

ERA Education Reform Act

29 Ronald Goldman, ‘Children’s Spiritual Development’, in Studies in Education: First Years in School(London: Evans Bros, for the University of London Institute of Education, 1963), 168.

30 Ibid., 168.

31 Copley, Teaching Religion: Fifty years of teaching religion in England and Wales, 15–42.

32 (London: HMSO, 1944), Preamble, Part 2, Section 7. The White Paper which preceded the Act, entitled Educational Reconstruction (1943), had spoken even more clearly by calling for education ‘to revive the personal and spiritual values of the nation’.

33 (London: HMSO, 1988), Chapter 40. 1.

34 Peter Gilliat, ‘Spiritual education and public policy 1944–1994’, in Ron Best (ed.), Education, Spirituality and the Whole Child (London: Cassell, 1996).

35 The contemporary debate on spirituality is usually dated from the references to spirituality in HMI Report, Curriculum 11–16 (London: HMSO, 1977) and its Supplement (London: HMSO, 1977). An important study from the same period that places spirituality at the heart of religious education is Raymond Holley, Religious Education and Religious Understanding (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978).

36 R. Gill, C.K. Hadaway, P.L. Marler, ‘Is religious belief declining in Britain?’ Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 37 (1998), 507–16

37 David Hay, Religious Experience Today (London: Mowbray, 1990).

38 Grace Davie, Believing without Belonging: Religion in Britain since 1945 (Oxford: Blackwell, 1994).

39 A complaint echoed in the debates that preceded the 1988 Education Reform Act, see J. Burn and C. Hart, The Crisis in Religious Education (London: Educational Research Trust, 1988); Colin Alves, ‘Just a Matter of Words? The Religious Debate in the House of Lords’, British Journal of Religious Education 13 (1991), 168–74.

40 John Gartner, ‘Religious Commitment, Mental Health, and Prosocial Behaviour: A Review of the Empirical Literature’, in Edward P. Shafranske (ed.), Religion and the Clinical Practice of Psychology (Washington DC: American Psychological Association, 1996). 187–214.

41 Discussion paper No. 3 (London: SCAA, 1995).

SCAA Schools Curriculum and Assessment Authority

42 (London: SCAA, 1996).

43 Findings of the Consultation on Values in Education and the Community (London: SCAA, 1996).

44 Handbook for the Inspection of Schools (London: HMSO, 1993), 12; Guidance on the Inspection of Secondary Schools (London: HMSO, OFSTED, 1995).

NCC National Curriculum Council

SCAA Schools Curriculum and Assessment Authority

45 Ron Best, Education, Spirituality and the Whole Child.

46 Spiritual and Moral Development, 3.

47 Ibid.

NCC National Curriculum Council

SCAA Schools Curriculum and Assessment Authority

48 William Hague, Evolving Spirituality (Alberta: University of Alberta, 1995), 15–16. The origins of this distinction within religious education (though they did not quite frame it in this way) can be traced to Harold Loukes, Teenage Religion (London, SCM Press, 1961), idem., New Ground in Christian Education (London: SCM Press, 1965); and Violet Madge, Children in Search of Meaning (London: SCM Press, 1965).

49 The Schools Council Project in Moral Education under the Directorship of Peter McPhail and the Farmington Trust Project on Moral Education are two clear examples: Peter McPhail, J.R. Ungoed-Thomas and Hilary Chapman, Moral education in the secondary school (London: Longman, 1972); John Wilson, Norman Williams, Barry Sugarman, Introduction to moral education (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1967).

50 For an interesting and provocative discussion of SCAA’s strategy to advance moral and spiritual values in schools see Trevor Cooling, Slaying the Dragon of Moral Relativism (Sydney: Aquila Press, 1998).

51 This is the interpretation usually placed upon Nicholas Tate’s speech to the SCAA Conference ‘Education for Adult Life’ (1996); see Clive Erricker, Jane Erricker, Danny Sullivan, Cathy Ota and Mandy Fletcher, The Education of the Whole Child (London: Cassell, 1997), 23–27.

52 John Hull, ‘The ambiguity of spiritual values’ in J. Mark Halstead and Monica Taylor (eds.), Values in Education and Educational Values (London: Falmer Press, 1995), 33–44, and idem., Utopian Whispers: Moral, Spiritual and Religious Values in Schools (Norwich: RMEP, 1998), 63–66; Nigel Blake, ‘Against Spiritual Education’, Oxford Review of Education 22 (1996), 443–56.

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53 Sampson, P. & Samuel, V. & Sugden, C. (eds) (1994) Faith and Modernity (Oxford, Regnum Books).

54 Brenda Watson, The Effective Teaching of Religious Education (Harlow: Longman, 1993), 24–36, and 72–87.

55 John White, ‘Instead of OFSTED: a critical discussion of OFSTED on ‘Spiritual, Moral Social and Cultural Development’, Cambridge Journal of Education 24 (1994), 369–77.

56 David G. Kibble, ‘Spiritual development, spiritual experience and spiritual education’, in Best, Education, Spirituality and the Whole Child, 64–74.

57 Michael Grimmitt, Religious Education and Human Development (Great Wakering: McCrimmon, 1987), 121–29.

58 Mike Newby, ‘Towards a secular concept of spiritual maturity’, in Best, Education, Spirituality and the Whole Child., 93–107, idem., ‘Spiritual development and Love of the World’, International Journal of Children’s Spirituality 1 (1996), 44–51.

59 E.g. Brian V. Hill, ‘ “Spiritual Development” in the Education Reform Act: A Source of Acrimony, Apathy or Accord?’ British Journal of Educational Studies 37 (1989), 169–82.

60 E.g. David Carr, ‘Towards a Distinctive Conception of Spiritual Education’, Oxford Review of Education 21 (1995), 83–98; idem., ‘Rival conceptions of Spiritual Education’, Journal of Philosophy of Education 30 (1996), 159–78.

61 David Carr’s work, this time drawing attention to his focus upon distinctively spiritual virtues.

62 David Smith, Making sense of Spiritual Development (Nottingham: Stapleford House, 1999).

63 Ibid., p. 5.

64 Clive Erricker, et. al., The Education of the Whole Child.; John G. Priestley, ‘Towards Finding the Hidden Curriculum: A Consideration of the Spiritual Dimension of Experience in Curriculum Planning’, British Journal of Religious Education 7 (1985), 112–119; David Hay and Rebecca Nye, The Spirit of the Child (London: HarperCollins, 1998). A devastating critique of this position is provided by Andrew Wright in Spiritual Pedagogy (Abingdon: Culham College Institute, 1998).

65 Derek Webster, ‘Spiritual Growth in Religious Education’ in Aspects of Education 28 (1982), 85–95; David Starkings (ed.), Religion and the Arts in Education: Dimensions of Spirituality (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1993).

66 John G. Priestley, ‘Whitehead Revisited—Religion and Education: An Organic Whole, in Brenda Watson (ed.), Priorities in Religious Education (London: Falmer Press, 1992), 27.

67 Brenda Lealman, ‘Grottoes, Ghettos and City of Glass: Conversations about Spirituality’, British Journal of Religious Education 8 (1986), 65–71.

68 L. Philip Barnes, ‘Relativism, Ineffability, and the Appeal to Experience: A Reply to the Myth Makers’, Modern Theology 7 (1990), 101–114.

69 Keith E. Yandell, Philosophy of Religion (London: Routledge, 1999), 65–80.

70 Cf. Adrian Thatcher accuses OFSTED’s approach to spiritual development (see notes 41 and 42) of precisely this error in ‘Policing the sublime: a wholly (holy?) ironic approach to the spiritual development of children’, in Jeff Astley and Leslie J. Francis (eds), Christian Theology and Religious Education: connections and contradictions, London: SPCK, 1996), 117–39.

71 Josephine M. Cairns, ‘Placing Value on consensus: an elusive goal’. The Curriculum Journal 9 (1998), 23–39.

L. Philip Barnes

University of Ulster, Coleraine