chapter  12
Religious Education and moral education
WithL. Philip Barnes
Pages 18

Religious Education has traditionally been regarded by educationalists, politicians and parents alike as a major vehicle for moral education. As recently as 1990 the National Curriculum Council commented that the contribution of religious education to an understanding of values was ‘too obvious’ to warrant discussion (National Curriculum Council 1990: 2). But what exactly is the relationship of religious education to moral education? In what ways does religious education serve as a vehicle of moral education in schools and in what ways can it serve? In order to begin to answer these questions it is helpful to develop a genealogical-historical account of the educational role of religious education in relation to morality and moral education. Our concerns are not purely historical but interpretive and critical. We can only appreciate the potential of religious education as a vehicle of moral education if we understand the history of the relationship between the two; that is, if we are familiar with the historical debates and considerations that have contributed to current interpretations, demarcations and practices. What society expects of religious education in relation to morality is historically conditioned; it is also of course politically and legislatively conditioned. Following our historical overview, attention is given to the current legislative framework and some of the non-statutory documents that set out the aims and expectations of schools in relation to moral education and moral development, particularly those aims and expectations that have an application to religious education. This requires some discussion and unpacking of the relationship between moral education and other aspects of the curriculum, particularly spiritual development and education for citizenship (though given that separate chapters are devoted to spirituality and citizenship in this volume, discussion of these themes is brief). Following this, a closer focus on the contribution religious education can make to moral education in the secondary school is pursued along with a brief discussion of the issue of the moral development of pupils in religious schools. Some final comments are

added on indoctrination and on the role of the teacher as model and example of moral development.