Contact-based interfaith programmes in schools and the changing religious education landscape: negotiating a worldviews curriculum

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    This article explores the implications of a proposed move towards a religion and worldviews curriculum in England for contact-based interfaith programmes in schools, through a case study of the Faith and Belief Forum’s School Linking programme. Quantitative and qualitative data collected through 1,488 teacher and student surveys, teacher focus groups and participant observation in schools reveal that despite students reporting an increase in religious knowledge after taking part in School Linking, the type of knowledge gained does not accurately capture the religious and worldview plurality of the programme’s participants. In positioning School Linking’s theoretical underpinnings of intergroup contact theory as driving this issue, the article proposes an alternative theoretical grounding for interfaith programmes in schools, the ‘decategorization’ model of contact. Interfaith programmes as communicated through decategorization ensures that such extra-curricular activities explore religious and non-religious worldviews in their complexity and complement students’ learning developed through a religion and worldviews curriculum.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-15
    Number of pages15
    JournalJournal of Beliefs and Values
    Issue number1
    Early online date22 Nov 2021
    Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2023

    Bibliographical note

    © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

    This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


    • decategorization
    • Interfaith
    • intergroup contact
    • religious education
    • schools
    • worldviews

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Education
    • Religious studies


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