The RE policy scene
This year has seen three major reports on RE, each calling for significant legal and policy changes. The messages are consistent: the quality of RE is held back by structural and legal factors; the religion and belief landscape in the UK has changed since 1944; the time has come to bring all RE people together into a conversation about our subject’s future. It is particularly to be welcomed that the RE Council has announced its intention to review the legal and policy framework for RE, and to achieve this by establishing a commission.
Culham St Gabriel’s position on RE policy
Culham St Gabriel’s Trust promotes excellence in RE. We wish to help raise standards in RE by improving teacher confidence and subject knowledge, and by moving towards a workable set of curriculum and assessment documents and resources to support specialist and non-specialist teachers. At this time of rapid change in education, we recognise how the structures and legal provisions that used to provide a firm underpinning for RE have been weakened, and how this creates difficulties for teachers of RE. In view of the existing evidence that structures are having an impact on standards, CSTG supports a review of the legal and wider policy framework. The review should create space for wide-ranging, inclusive and informed discussion. Any recommendations should be strongly evidenced from within and beyond the RE community, including teachers, academics, the Church of England, Roman Catholic Church and other religious providers of schools, and experts in human rights and diversity. The review should focus on improving the rigour and quality of learning in RE from age 4 to 16. It should have improved religious literacy among young people as its principal goal. It should seek to maintain the clear distinction between RE and school worship. We would hope that such a review could be led by the RE Council with the full collaboration and participation of all its member organisations, and that the process could be completed by 2017-18.