The hidden history of curriculum change in Religious Education in English schools, 1969-1979.
1 September 2009 - 31 August 2010
PI/s in Exeter: Professor Rob Freathy
Research partners: In collaboration with Dr Stephen Parker (University of Worcester).
Funding awarded: £ 6,995
Sponsor(s): British Academy
About the research
Rob Freathy and Stephen Parker (University of Worcester) undertook a historical research project with a view to contributing to knowledge about curriculum change in Religious Education (RE) in English schools between 1969 and 1979, with a focus on the controversial Birmingham Agreed Syllabus (1975). Both original archival material and life history data were utilised and contextualised within their educational, socio-cultural and political milieu. The research uncovered political processes associated with RE’s development, both locally and nationally, that had been neglected in the existing literature, for example, significant campaigns by secularists and humanists to abolish, reform or establish a secular alternative to, RE; fervent responses by certain Christian groups, including Mary Whitehouse’s well-publicised Save Religion in State Schools campaign; forgotten national policy developments led by the Department of Education and Science and Her Majesty’s Inspectors; and theoretical tensions surrounding the dominance of Christianity in the RE curriculum due to historical and cultural reasons and the need for multi-faith content as a response to immigration.