Since the launch of the report of the RE Council’s RE Review in the House of Commons three weeks ago, we have had two or three significant developments.
The first two dissemination events for the Review have taken place – one in London and one in York. Both went well, and both giving a clear welcome to the report. Both have borne out what I said in my last blog post “No review … can be perfect, and not everybody will agree with every word in the report…. However, the Review commands sufficient professional, religious and political support to become the basis for an agenda for future work.” The RE community is rallying around this report. There are still some dissemination events to come – Oxford 19 November, Liverpool 21 November and Bristol 28 November, all beginning at 5.30 pm. These are free and open to all on a first come, first served basis. Contact Sophie at the REC office if you want to book a place.
The RE Council had its Second Regular General Meeting last week and representatives of its member organisations spent considerable time in discussing the review report in detail. The results of these discussions will feed into the revision of the RE Council’s strategic plan to take forward the new national Curriculum Framework for RE and the other recommendations of the Review. Click here for an overview of the meeting.
The DfE have agreed to support the establishment of an RE Expert Subject Advisory Group alongside such panels (ESAGs) for the National Curriculum subjects. These largely teacher-led subject panels are implementing the new National Curriculum programmes of study working on areas such as exemplification, resourcing, and assessment. It is good that RE will have a parallel group to take some of the Review recommendations forward. The RE Council has been asked to establish the RE ESAG to begin working in the New Year, with funding from the DfE until August 2014.
A senior official from the DfE addressed the RE Council’s general meeting last week, speaking for Mrs Elizabeth Truss who was sadly unable to come at the last minute.
He welcomed the Ofsted report RE: Realising its Potential with its emphasis on the need to improve the quality of RE, and noted some similarities with NC subjects, stressing the importance of core knowledge and understanding in RE.
He confirmed the Secretary of State’s interest in and support for RE. There are no plans to change legislation. Whilst the DfE is not involved in the detail and determination of the RE curriculum, it can give a sense of direction for RE and wants to see a good place for it in schools.
He confirmed that the DfE would like to see a reformed GCSE in Religious Studies ready for first teaching in 2016, and would like the RE Council to be involved in its development. The Department was waiting for advice from Ofqual and would continue to liaise with the RE Council and awarding bodies.
You can be sure the RE Council will follow up on all of these things. Whilst many questions still remain (about GCSE and many other things) it is clear that the DfE is keen to have a good working relationship with the RE Council on taking the Review forward and improving the provision and quality of RE in our schools. Keep watching this space!