TRS-UK Statement on the Report of the Commission on Religious Education:
Religion and Worldviews: The Way Forward: A National Plan For RE
On September 12th 2018, the Commission on Religious Education launches Religion and Worldviews: The Way Forward: A National Plan For RE. This report makes a series of recommendations for the future of the study of religions and worldviews in schools. It responds to serious concerns, shared by TRS-UK Departments and Units, about the diminishing status of the subject in schools in England. It makes eleven key recommendations for change, central to which is the creation of a statutory national entitlement to the subject for all children. The Commission has conducted a two-year period of wide consultation, in which TRS-UK participated, alongside nearly 700 other stakeholders. The report is the result of this inclusive process.
TRS-UK welcomes this report and responds as follows:
- We strongly support the Commission’s proposal of a statutory national entitlement by which all school pupils, in all kinds of schools, will be guaranteed a significant quantity of high-quality teaching about religion and worldviews.
- We recognise that the subject has been rendered vulnerable by the combination of the diversification of types of school, lower levels of accountability, the exclusion of Religious Education from progression metrics, and under-investment in teacher education. Urgent and decisive action at governmental level is required to address this.
We strongly support the proposals in the Report to raise the profile and significance of religion and worldviews within the curricula of all kinds of school, both at GCSE and at A-level.
- We consider the subject as crucial for all pupils, for their understanding of themselves and others, and of local and global realities. The current decline in religious literacy is already resulting in prejudice, discrimination, fear, hatred, and an impoverished public discourse. Education about religion and worldviews is important for all citizens, whether they are themselves religious or not. The unique combination of skills fostered by the subject is essential in the workplace, in the media, and in politics (local, national and international), and all pupils deserve to be well taught in this subject.
- We agree that the subject requires well-trained and well-informed teachers who can go beyond essentialized stereotypes of religion. They must be equipped to explore and explain its varied contemporary expressions, its local and historical diversity, and its contextual adaptability. They must also be trained to foster in children the skills of critical thinking and respectful debate.
- We are committed to encouraging all UK Departments of Theology and Religious Studies, together with the relevant subject associations, to work more closely with teachers, both in ongoing CPD and in developing curriculum materials, especially for the A-level syllabus. We are confident that our members would respond well to the establishment of partnerships with schools in this regard, especially if government resources are made available for this task as part of the National Plan.
We remain committed to working with the National Association of Teachers of Religious Education and other stakeholders to assert the value of A level Religious Studies for applications to our degrees.
- We thus lend strong general support to this Report and hope that its many important recommendations will be given close and sympathetic consideration by the Department for Education.