Twenty-eight RE students from seven different schools joined MPs at the House of Commons to campaign on behalf of Religious Education (RE) in schools on Monday, June 24.
The schools were invited by the All Party Parliamentary Group on RE to update MPs and Peers about two new initiatives designed to give RE a much needed boost in schools.
The RE Quality Mark (REQM) is a new accreditation supported and monitored by the Religious Education Council for England and Wales to celebrate and recognise quality RE in all primary and secondary school classrooms.
When it is well taught in secondary schools 11-16 year olds value GCSE Religious Studies as a strong humanities subject. The RE Young Ambassadors programme is a new initiative that draws on this support by bringing together a diverse group of young people from different secondary schools. They volunteer their time to champion RE as subject they believe to be important.
Stephen Lloyd MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Religious Education (RE), said:
“We have found many excuses are given for relegating RE in schools to a single slot, often taught by a non-specialist teacher who has not benefited from subject training. Given the current social and political climate this is shocking, and today it is tremendous to welcome so many schools and young people who want to support RE in our schools. We are working hard to ensure the subject is given a long term view and is not ignored in any curriculum reforms.”
As society becomes more religiously diverse it is widely acknowledged that RE offers pupils the opportunity to explore their own beliefs and reflect on the challenges of serious commitment, allowing them to investigate how different beliefs have shaped individuals, families, communities and cultures. RE is a challenging subject to teach and one that requires support through training and space in the curriculum. By ignoring RE the current Government is threatening to put issues of faith, belief and diversity to one side and not make the most of schools as a safe space to educate, inform and question.
Notes to editors
2. The Young Ambassadors Programme was created by the Religious Education Council of England and Wales, and the REC supports and monitors the RE Quality Mark (REQM). The REC brings together academic and professional associations specialising in religions and religious education. It also includes the individual religion and belief organisations which represent the range of faith communities found nationally, including the British Humanist Association.