BY CECILIA BROMLEYMARTIN AND HELEN SAXBEE DOES YOUR CHILD know what Lent is? Does he or she know what Palm Sunday marks?
Probably not, according to Dr Nick Tate, the Government's chief advisor on school curricula.
A recent survey found that nearly half Britain's 1 ö to 24year-olds could not say what Good Friday commemorates, while almost three-quarters did not know what happened on Palm Sunday.
Speaking at a conference of RE teachers in London last week, Dr Tate said a narrow utilitarian view that anything not helping children "get on" is not worth teaching has left Britain "far advanced towards becoming a religiously illiterate society".
"We do our pupils a disservice if we do not develop their knowledge and understanding of the major faiths that have shaped the world in which they live," he said. "Without it, we limit their understanding of the world and their sense of the possi
bilities of human life."
According to a report by Dr Tate, one in three schools breaks the law by failing to provide specific religious education for 14 to 1 6-yearolds.
In many schools, inspectors have found RE incorporated into social studies.
"Young people of this age are interested in the question of existence and the nature of God... what happens when we die, and how to find a sense of purpose and meaning in lives that may already have witnessed sadness, suffering and tragedy."
At the conference, Dr Tate
announced government approval for a new short course qualification in RE for 14 to 16-year-olds, equivalent to half a GCSE, which aims to boost the subject during the last two years of compulsory education. He told the conference: "In the 50 per cent of schools where provision is either nonexistant or inadequate, I strongly urge headteachers and governors to think again."