Yesterday I attended the RE Council SRGM in London at the East London Mosque and Muslim Centre. Culham St Gabriel’s are one of RE Council member organisations, and I also sit on the RE Council Board as a Trustee. Firstly, I’d like to express my thanks to our hosts who welcomed us warmly and shared their work so openly with us.
The meeting was particularly encouraging as it shared the different ways in which the Commission on RE recommendations are being taken forward by the Council, but also by individual member organisations. I had the privilege to share the Primary Initial Teacher Training project which Culham St Gabriel’s have funded over the last 12 months. The powerpoint I used can be found here.
Deborah Weston showcased a range of ways in which the new language of ‘religion and worldviews’ is being used in the RE community. This included special issues of academic and teacher publications, the Culham St Gabriel’s Teach:RE courses and RE:ONLINE, the new Norfolk Agreed Syllabus, the Big Ideas project and revised RE Quality Mark criteria. She reminded us that increased bursaries and subject knowledge enhancement funding had been introduced, and that Ofsted are now beginning to call schools to account in relation to RE as part of a broad and balanced curriculum. She talked about positive conversations with ministers about a model curriculum, and the beginnings of a pilot Local Advisory Network project with NASACRE.
The most interesting development for me was the proposed religion and worldviews project for which the Council are currently seeking funding. The project will bring together academics and other stakeholders to consider the concepts of ‘religion’ and ‘worldviews’. The aim is then to develop a shared understanding as a Council about what we mean by religion and worldviews education. To me this is a very important step in shaping the future implementation work, and Culham St Gabriel’s fully support this initiative.
Some people have asked me recently if I think the Commission’s recommendations have been put on the shelf. My answer has been categorically ‘no’. I think the last year has been a time of positive reflection, but clearly there has been much action too! I think the showcasing yesterday provided the evidence to back up my answer! The Commission on RE is alive and well, and if we (the RE Community) are to bring about change, we have to accept that we are in it for the long haul. As Trevor Cooling reminded us, when the last game changer report was published in 1971 it was 17 years later that the law finally changed.
CEO, Culham St Gabriel’s Trust
For further information see:
https://www.cstg.org.uk/2018/12/the-commission-on-re-and-re-policy-issues/ – Culham St Gabriel’s statement fully endorsing the vision of the Commission on RE.