Accord calls for Government renewal of RE following publication of damning report by cross-party parliamentary group

March 18, 2013

Commenting on the new report by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) report on Religious Education (RE), ‘RE: The Truth Unmasked’, Chair of the Accord Coalition, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain MBE, said ‘The report makes devastating reading because RE plays a vital role in widening children’s general knowledge of major influences in the world, helping them relate to their neighbours and improving citizenship.

‘The Accord Coalition has long warned that omitting RE from the EBacc was effectively downgrading it and telling head teachers to give it less priority, and we are now seeing results of that omission. The report paints a disturbing picture of RE as a malnourished subject on the slide, and it makes a strong case for much better resourcing of training and career professional development for teachers, and better monitoring of the quality of the provision of RE in schools.

‘However, Accord welcomes, in particular, the report’s call for Ofsted to report on whether schools are meeting their legal obligations to provide RE, and also that Academies should be required to follow their locally agreed RE syllabuses. These two recommendations, along with including RE in the EBacc, would have little in the way of extra resource implications, but help restore the subject’s waning status.’

The report was published after a three month long inquiry by the APPG into the supply of and support for Religious Education (RE) teachers in schools, including a review of evidence from over 400 sources, which included from the Accord Coalition. Among its key findings were that over fifty per cent of those teaching RE in secondary schools have no qualification or relevant expertise in the subject; that a quarter of all primary schools that responded said the subject was taught by a teaching assistant, and that support for RE teachers at a local level has been dramatically reduced by local authority funding cuts and the expansion of the Academies programme.

The report found that a range of contributory factors had lead to a lowering of standards of RE in schools in addition to RE’s exclusion from the English Baccalaureate. These included a recent reduction in the number of RE teacher training places, and inadequate access to support for many teaching staff. The report argued that the combined effect of these factors left many teachers struggling to reach the levels of subject competence expected in the Department for Education’s own teaching standards.

Among its key recommendations were that the Department for Education should require secondary teachers to receive some training in any subject they teach, to restore bursaries for RE trainees, and to ensure that the local authority committees overseeing the provision of RE to be better resourced. The report also called for better online resources for RE teachers, both to boost their career professional development and subject knowledge.

 

Notes

poll released by the National Association of Teachers of Religious Education (NATRE) last September indicated that 28% of schools were not adhering to their legal commitments with regard to the provision of RE at Key Stage Four, up from 28% when NATRE polled the same question in 2011.

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.

2 Responses to Accord calls for Government renewal of RE following publication of damning report by cross-party parliamentary group

  1. Kevin Partner on March 18, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    In my view, all schools should be entirely secular and there should be no religious content whatsoever. A child doesn’t have to know what Eid is to respect the fact that some people celebrate it. School should offer examples, through history and English (for example) of the effects of religious intolerance and the beauty of some religious literature but, as a subject, I believe it should be expunged entirely. Replace it with extra science!

    • richard evans on March 19, 2013 at 10:04 am

      you do not understand what we do in RE. Come and see for yourself, and do not be blinded by your own prejudice.

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