Education Lecturer’s RE Research Cited in Influential Inspectorate Report

The recent Ofsted research review into the quality of Religious Education across England cites three studies by the University of Glasgow’s Dr David Lundie, Senior Lecturer at Dumfries Campus.

The report calls for a focus on content knowledge – the substantive concepts and sources of wisdom which each religious tradition draws upon, and disciplinary knowledge – the different ‘ways of knowing’ about religion, drawing on the tools of sociology, textual studies, philosophy. This approach follows from a critique of the often disconnected or distorted approaches to ‘personal knowledge’ as a skill disconnected from these substantive learning aims, which were found in older approaches to RE by the University of Glasgow’s large scale 2011 study Does Religious Education Work? led by Professor James Conroy.

The review also noted Dr Lundie’s analysis of GCSE Religious Studies entries, which showed that pupils experiencing economic disadvantage are less likely to have the opportunity to take the subject, highlighting also that while 91% of schools with a religious character were offering curriculum time for Religious Education in Key Stage 4 (ages 14-16), this drops to just 27% for academies, highlighting that “[i]f schools do not teach pupils any RE, this is illegal.”

In recent years, a number of reports have called for reform of the legal settlement to better reflect contemporary realities in the religious life and values of the UK. The report acknowledges the recommendations of the Westminster Faith Debates report, to which Dr Lundie contributed a study on parents’ decisions to opt their children out of Religious Education. Since joining the University of Glasgow, Dr Lundie has launched a Holyrood Faith Debates series on religion and education in Scotland, which is due to publish its first report in Summer 2021.

Dr Richard Kueh, Her Majesty’s Inspector and author of the research review, commented

The Ofsted research review in RE explores literature relating to the field of RE. Its purpose is to identify factors that contribute to high-quality school RE curriculums, the teaching of the curriculum, assessment and systems. The review draws on a range of sources, including our ‘Education inspection framework: overview of research’ and our 3 phases of curriculum research. It is also supported by research into RE, including research into practice and the theoretical work of academics and professionals. We at Ofsted hope that, through this research review, we will contribute to raising the quality of RE for all young people.

Dr Lundie’s research into Religious Education continues – a recent teacher conference heard recommendations from a project on engaging primary pupils in authentic experiences of lived faith through field trips and visiting speakers, he is Associate Editor of the British Journal of Religious Education and a book, School Leadership Between Community and the State: The Changing Civic Role of Schooling is due out next year, published by Palgrave Macmillan.

First published: 17 May 2021