Recommendation 5 – Benjamin Wood

  1. When GCSE and A-level specifications are next reviewed, this should be done in the light of the National Entitlement.
  2. The national body should also consider how the study of Religion and Worldviews may be incorporated into vocational qualifications, either as a stand-alone course or as modules within existing vocational courses.


The recommendation to review GCSE and A level specifications in light of the National Entitlement is sensible, as is the caveat that this should only take place when these courses are next reviewed.  The process of changing both GCSE and A level courses at the same time between 2015 and 2018 was just a little tiring!


While I think that the new GCSE is a significant improvement on the previous course, I do acknowledge the criticism of some that it is too narrow, and when placed alongside the proposed National Entitlement, the GCSE would stand somewhat apart from the vision proposed by the Commission.


The challenge for any review would be to construct a course that built on the use of the National Entitlement up to Key Stage 3, but in a way that continued to increase challenge and depth. It may be that any such review might have to be postponed until curricula reflecting the National Entitlement had been embedded.


The suggestion that the study of Religion and Worldviews could be incorporated into vocational qualifications is an interesting and exciting idea. This does offer a chance for creativity in course design beyond the structures required by examination courses.


However, careful thought would need to be given to the content of such courses. Too often, vocational qualifications lack demand and encourage low expectations. Any such Religion and Worldviews content should not be a simplified version of a GCSE course. Students who take vocational qualifications deserve better than that.

Benjamin Wood
Head of RE and Subject Leader for Religious Studies and chair of NATRE