Given this I can't get very excited about the pros and cons of Religious Education in the higher levels of secondary education. The syllabus, in Britain, is solid and not without academic merit. It is certainly not a 'soft' option for the differently abled student. It's continued existence and content, however, would be unlikely to reverse the anecdotal statistic that has 90% of students in Catholic schools lapsing before they've even managed to flee the nest of dear Alma Mater. I wonder if the resources being squandered on academic RE programmed in the Catholic schools might be better put into the hands of chaplains for spiritual programmes.
It's quite obvious that the passing-on of religious faith (as distnct from academic knowledge about the faith) is better achieved from parent to child rather than in the class room. It would probably be a worthy notion for the bishops' conference to use some saved education funds in the production of catechetical materials to be used at home. This will not happen of course. The union connections would be calling in favours on the behalf of the atheistic religious education teachers collective before you could whistle a stanza of the Internationale.
But is the possibility that there may not be Religious Education in some sort of Baccalaureate really a tragedy worthy of a lot of angst?
For readers outside of Britain: Religious Education is a compulsory curriculum element in British Schools up until late secondary schooling. In the last fortnight two things have 'made the news' concerning religious education in schools in Britain. (1) The proposal not to have RE as an option in the final year of secondary education and (2) the announcement that the amount of trainee places for RE teachers is to be roughly halved. For readers in Britain: Those reading outside these isles are probably pretty amazed that we are allowed to have religious education within the state system at all!