A further study of opinions of Essex primary teachers about religious education and school assembly in the context of contemporary controversy
This study of opinions of Essex Primary teachers in 1977 about religious education and assembly arises from and partly incorporates an earlier study carried out in Essex and Walsall in 1968-69 (B.G. Burgess, 1975). The work begins with a study of the legal provisions of the 1944 Education Act concerning religious education and with the controversies that have since arisen. Recent developments in the philosophy and practice of religious education are examined and an assessment is made of previous relevant research, including the 1968-69 research which provided the starting point for the present study. A number of methodological research difficulties are explored. The two main hypotheses concern the relation of teachers' opinions about assembly, religious education and teaching aims to their age and religious co~~itment, but six subsidiary hypotheses involve the relation of some other variables (sex; teaching responsibilities and duties; size, status and situation of school) to teachers' opinions. Furrowing a pilot study a 20% sample survey of Essex Primary teachers' opinions is undertaken by means of a questionnaire, and the hypotheses are tested statistically. Finally, the findings are interpreted in the light of contemporary social, educational and political trends. It is argued that the legal compulsions of the 1944 Act regarding assembly and religious education should be relaxed, and that responsibility should be devolved to teachers, who should be adequately educated in religious, moral and philosophical concepts.