Whatever Happened to Religious Education?

By Penny Thompson

An analysis of how and why the teaching of the Christian faith has been eroded since the 1960s, and of what can be done to restore its position.

ISBN: 9780718830397


In this book, Penny Thompson discusses the place of Christianity in Religious Education from 1963.

She explores the reasons why the committed teaching of the Christian faith has been slowly undermined, and aims to show that the current state of both theory and practice is incoherent and unsustainable. Her arguments explore the debates and historical developments in this sector, over the past forty years, and convincingly propose that the way forward to is to recover the teaching of Christianity in an open and self-critical way.

OFSTED reports that the level of unsatisfactory staffing in RE is now a matter of ‘deep concern’. This book seeks to inspire and motivate those who might not be attracted to RE teaching as a profession, and details suggestions which may help to alter this current state of affairs.

The author draws on primary sources, her own experiences and interviews with prominent individuals in the profession.

Additional information

Dimensions 234 × 156 mm
Pages 192

Trade Information LPOD

About the Author

Penny Thompson taught Religious Education (RE) in comprehensive schools in Sefton, Merseyside for 15 years and has also taught in the private sector. She has contributed to various courses at Liverpool Hope University. She sits on Knowsley and Liverpool SACREs. Recent publications include two articles in the British Journal of Religious Education (BJRE). She is co-author with Brenda Watson of The Effective Teacher of RE (2nd edition, 2007), and co-editor of Inspiring Faith in Schools, to be published in October 2007 by Ashgate.

Her website may be found at:


Foreword by the Bishop of St Albans

1. Losing Faith in RE
2. Restating the Place of the Christian Faith in RE
3. The Role of Ninian Smart
4. The RE Profession in the Early 1970s
5. Pushing the new Approaches
6. Taking Control of RE from the Churches
7. A Fightback in the 1970s
8. The Fightback Fails
9. The 1988 Education Reform Act
10. ‘You teach us wrong, Miss’
11. ‘Why Teach RE if you don’t Know which is True?’
12. ‘Teach the Faith, Miss’
13. Answering Objections, Supporting Arguments and the Way Forward



Endorsements and Reviews

I have no hesitation in recommending this well-researched, well written and provocative book.
Rupert Kaye, Chief Executive of the Association of Christian Teachers

… a thoughtful read – this book will encourage professional debate.
Priscilla Chadwick, in The Magazine of the Independent Schools Council

This is a book to read, enjoy and reflect upon because it does what all creative scholarship ought to do, namely, to provide a vision for a fresh way of looking at the world.
William K. Kay, in The Journal of Education & Christian Belief