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The only way is up

REC Blog

Many people will have heard news today of the publication of the long awaited Ofsted long report on RE, RE: realising the potential and the reporting of it in the media. This included Alan Brine HMI and myself on Radio 4’s Sunday programme, Helen Harrison on Breakfast TV, clips on Radio 5 Live, and many others on local radio programmes. The Ofsted report is sombre reading talking of low standards, weak teaching, curricular problems, confusion of purpose, weak leadership, weakness at GCSE, gaps in training and impact of recent education policy. To readers of this blog, this is nothing new. On behalf of the RE Council I have been trying to tell the DfE this for over eighteen months now. Despite the good practice and the improvements, RE has seen over past years that Ofsted refers to, it is not pleasant to see the evidence of weakness and inconsistency spelled out with Ofsted language and authority. The report does make compelling reading, however, and I hope marks the point from where RE starts to begin its recovery. It is important to remember that RE is not broke, even if damaged. Ofsted’s report talks about the key roles RE plays but how it is not realising that potential sufficiently everywhere. The main thing to do now is to work on its improvement.

The REC’s Review of RE is a key part of this. The report is now ready and will be launched on 23 October at the House of Commons. It contains a new Curriculum Framework for RE, parallel to the new National Curriculum subject frameworks which schools are getting ready to teach from September 2014. The RE Curriculum Framework outlines the purpose of RE, its aims and its breadth. It contains programmes of study for three key stages as well as guidance on RE in the Early years and beyond 14. In addition, a second part of the report covers current issues that shape RE’s context and makes recommendations for taking these forward, including improving training and resourcing. The report was agreed by the REC Board this week, nem con, and has the support of major faith communities, RE professional groups, and the Department.

Following the launch, there will be five dissemination events around the country – London 5 November, York 6 November, 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, so look out for details in your area. The REC believes that the Review will provide an agenda for working with the Department and others on curriculum development, assessment, qualifications reform and training. It is vital, in my view, that the Department provides public support and resources for this, so I am inviting Mrs Elizabeth Truss, the minister with responsibility for RE, to address the REC’s general meeting in London on 7 November. We need a sign that Michael Gove’s admission that he has not done enough for RE in July was made in good faith.

Let us hope that this morning’s Ofsted report marks the lowest point for RE in these times, and that from now on, the only way is up. If we in the RE community stick together and work together more smartly, with a new approach in the DfE, that is not just possible, but vital for our children and young people to realise their potential.

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