University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Context, Complexity and Contestation: Birmingham’s Agreed Syllabuses for Religious Education since the 1970s

Parker, Stephen and Freathy, R. (2011) Context, Complexity and Contestation: Birmingham’s Agreed Syllabuses for Religious Education since the 1970s. Journal of Beliefs and Values., 32 (2). pp. 247-263. ISSN Print: 1361-7672 Online: 1469-9362

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The present article offers an historical perspective on the 1975, 1995 and 2007 Birmingham Agreed Syllabuses for Religious Education. It draws upon historical evidence uncovered as part of ‘The hidden history of curriculum change in reli- gious education in English schools, 1969–1979’ project, and curriculum history theories, especially David Labaree’s observations about the distance between the ‘rhetorical’ and ‘received’ curricula. We argue that, contrary to the existing his- toriography, curriculum change in religious education (RE) has been evolution- ary not revolutionary. Multiple reasons are posited to explain this, not least among which is the capacity and agency of teachers. Furthermore, we argue that ongoing debates about the nature and purpose of RE, as exemplified in the Birmingham context, reflect the multiple expectations that religious educators and other stakeholders had, and continue to have, of the curriculum subject. These debates contribute to the inertia evident in the implementation of RE cur- riculum reforms. A consciousness of the history of RE enables curriculum con- testations to be contextualised and understood, and, thereby, provides important insights which can be applied to ongoing and future debates and developments.

Item Type: Article
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Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: religious education, agreed syllabus, curriculum change
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
L Education > LA History of education
Divisions: College of Arts, Humanities and Education > School of Education
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Depositing User: Stephen Parker
Date Deposited: 15 Jul 2016 14:13
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2020 17:12

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