Constraints for assessment in Religious and Moral Education

Lynne Grant-McMahon, Yonah Matemba

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Religious Education (RE) is a difficult curriculum subject to assess not least due to
disagreements over what to assess, how this should be done (Watson 1993) and even
whether it is possible or even desirable to assess the subject (Hand 2006). Problems of
assessment in RE are directly related to the contested aims of RE: teaching cognitive
facts about religions (Smart 1984), teaching for religious commitment (Rodger 1982) or
teaching about religious knowledge as much as about religious commitment (Roebben
2009). In Scotland, this debate is polarised between the way RE is offered in the two
sectors of public education, denominational (largely Catholic) and non-denominational.
While in both sectors pedagogy is based on a (Christian) neo-confessional framework,
the major difference lies on what each of the sectors emphasises. Denominational RE
emphasises faith development while non-denominational RE—under the nomenclature
‘Religious and Moral Education’ (RME)—focuses on religious phenomena (Rodger 2003).
This paper is concerned with assessment issues in non-denominational RE in Scotland in
the light of the new 3-18 ‘Curriculum for Excellence’ (CfE) programme introduced in
2009. It is based on qualitative data collected between 2009 and 2011 from moderation
work in schools involving discussions with headteachers, principal teachers of RME and
also discussions with teacher-trainees on school placement. Analysis of the data reveals
a number of issues that impact adversely on good assessment practices in RME. The
implications of the assessment problems for teaching and pedagogy are examined.
Finally, suggestions that can help to ameliorate some of the assessment challenges for
RME in Scotland are discussed
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2011
EventScottish Educational Research Association 2011 - Stirling Highland Hotel, Stirling, United Kingdom
Duration: 24 Oct 201125 Oct 2011


ConferenceScottish Educational Research Association 2011
Abbreviated titleSERA 2011
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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