Council leaders have admitted they are failing to meet their legal duty to provide religious education, after it was revealed that no students at Marlwood School studied the subject at GCSE in 2017/18.

Despite it being a legal requirement to provide the course, no students at the Alveston secondary were entered for a GCSE RE exam during the 2017/18 school year.

A report from the South Gloucestershire Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education (Sacre) stated the council was failing in its statutory responsibilities.

Sacre chairman Jane Allinson told councillors they were “selling young people short” and that the situation was “very worrying”.

She said: “Last year I underlined how disappointed I was in presenting the outcomes of the examination results. This year is not any different.

“The picture they paint is very depressing.

“It will not look good when Ofsted comes to inspect and finds RE is just not on the table.”

The report said the key to raising standards in the subject was ensuring that new teachers had high-quality training.

“Sadly, many will have very little or no training as part of their initial qualification,” it said.

Cllr Erica Williams said at a meeting of South Gloucestershire Council’s cabinet on June 17: “Apart from RE being a statutory subject, the important thing to remember is if children understand the many religions that make up the melting pot of South Gloucestershire then perhaps they would also have better relationships with each other.”

Cllr Ben Stokes said: “As far as effective provision of RE and collective worship/school assemblies are concerned, it does not seem to be happening in the way that it should.

“We are going to be working hard on this and we have identified the issues.”

However, at The Castle School in Thornbury, 98 per cent of students chose RE for their GCSEs in 2017/18.

Marlwood’s current headteacher, Del Planter, was not at the school when the exams in question – where no students chose to study RE – were taken, and declined to comment when asked by the Gazette.