The Accord Coalition has responded to the announcement of a new project by educationalists and practitioners at Oxford University to produce an online Religious Education (RE) teaching resource for trainee primary school teachers and non-specialists teaching RE in secondary schools. Among its goals, the project intends to help address a perceived ‘nervousness’ among some teachers that teaching about issues related to Christianity could be considered as evangelizing.
Commenting on the announcement, Chair of the Accord Coalition, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, said ‘Worship and doctrine should be reserved for Church and Sunday school, but you cannot understand British life, past or present, without being familiar with Christianity. It must therefore be taught in RE to a high standard, but along with the major religions and beliefs that motivate and inspire people in their social, cultural, political and economic life. RE should equip pupils for a positively critical and respectful engagement with the challenges of living in a mixed-belief society.’
‘To help achieve these high standards, the teaching of RE in all state funded schools should therefore be made accountable under a single inspection regime. Meanwhile, the subject should be given a further boost by being included in the Government’s English Baccalaureate performance indicator.’
The project is bring being funded by two charitable Trusts, the Jerusalem Trust, which advances the Christian religion and Christian education and learning, and the Culham St Gabriel’s Trust, which promotes the Church of England’s involvement in education and the teaching and accessibility of RE. A YouGov poll has been released to coincide with the announcement looking at public attitudes about the teaching of Christianity in schools.
The NASUWT’s ‘English Baccalaureate Survey Summary’, released in June 2011, surveyed over 2,400 NASUWT members working in the secondary sector in England to assess their early experiences of the impact of the English Baccalaureate performance indicator. It indicated that 10% of schools had reported a decline in their planned provision of RE since the English Baccalaureate was introduced, and found that a quarter of all academies and community schools did not provide statutory RE for their 14 – 16 year old pupils.