State, Staff and Status: The Situation for Religious Education in Contemporary Scotland

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Since the publication of the indelible Millar Report in 1972 (SED 1972), Scottish religious
education—in both denominational and non-denominational sectors—has undergone
stages of modernisation (Hannah 2007), culminating, first, with the introduction of the
5-14 curriculum in 1992 and recently (2009/10) the introduction of a new curriculum
called ‘Curriculum for Excellence’ (Hartshorn 2008; Nixon 2008). This article examines
the state (extent of provision), staff (specialist teachers) and status (public esteem) of
Religious Education (RE) in the secondary school sector of contemporary Scotland. It
uses qualitative research methods involving data based on relevant literature, official
documents and interviews with key stakeholders (n25). With major questions being
raised if religious education works in Scotland as well (Lundie 2010), the article
investigates if religious education in Scotland has reached the ‘Nirvana’ stage hoped by
the processes of educationalisation and professionalisation (Fairweather and MacDonald
1992). However, it is argued that given the nature and extent of the challenges facing
religious education in Scotland, it is difficult to see how religious education can realise its
full potential as a curriculum subject. It concludes that in an era of secularisation when
liberal thinking dominates educational policy and practice, religious education might
require much more support than is currently being given if the subject is to become
competitive on the school curriculum.
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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