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Title: The representation of Christianity in religious education in England : the shaping of a tradition
Author: Hayward, Mary
ISNI:       0000 0004 2694 8377
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2008
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Christianity holds a central place in Religious Education (RE) in England. Since the Education Reform Act of 1988, it has been formally named in legislation relating to Religious Education; formerly its presence in the curriculum was assumed, but there was no specific indication of a requirement to teach particular religions - not even in the Education Act of 1944 which was of particular importance in formalising arrangements for Religious Education. Interpretation of ERA (DfES Circular 1/94) suggested that Christianity should 'predominate' in the RE curriculum. This study arises from recognition of the status accorded to Christianity in RE and the recognition that its representation and the shaping of this have not in the main been addressed by research. My study falls into three main parts. Part 1 considers the shaping of Christianity in RE (Chs.1 and 2) drawing on relevant written sources, among which Agreed Syllabuses hold a key place. Chapter 3 focuses particularly on the representation of Christianity in Agreed Syllabuses from the period 2001-2004, providing necessary background to the research which underpins Part 2. Part 2's concern is the teaching - and thus representation - of Christianity in key stage 3 in schools with and without a religious character. Based on a survey undertaken across England, it draws on data gathered from teachers. It includes an analysis of the content teachers select about Christianity (Chapter 5), and analyses the aspirations teachers have for their pupils' learning about and from Christianity. Teachers' own experience of studying the tradition is discussed in Chapter 7. These chapters in particular offer material relating to the representation of Christianity and the factors which shape this which, as far as I am aware, is unavailable elsewhere. Part 3 takes up my contention at the end of Part 2 (Chapter 9), that a new configuration of Christianity is needed in RE. A case is presented for this (Chapter 10), taking into account especially the changing face of the tradition globally, and drawing out possible implications for RE from some recent studies of Christianity. Chapter 11 takes my own recommendation seriously and explores a possible way forward in reconfiguring Christianity so that RE may offer a more adequate representation of the tradition in the present. A final note reflects on the challenge a new configuration presents to RE. The above summary of my concerns points to the argument I advance: that the representation of Christianity in RE has been shaped by factors extrinsic to a considered study of the tradition; this has allowed the emergence of a 'curriculum Christianity' which fails to do justice to its diverse presence and dynamic, locally and globally. Teachers are heirs to this curriculum tradition and in some measure its guardians and interpreters. The relatively few scholarly attempts to give account of Christianity 'as a religion' bears on their encounter with the tradition in their own studies and, it would seem, on its representation in RE. I argue that a re-conceptualisation of what might be understood by 'Christianity' and the development of new paradigms for its study might contribute to a more authentic representation of Christianity in RE.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: All Saints Education Trust
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: BR Christianity ; LB Theory and practice of education