The RE Council’s patrons help us to champion RE in the public sphere and spread the message about why RE matters.
What our patrons say about RE
Religious Education in schools helps us break down barriers and it is extremely important we pursue it as part of a rounded education. Religion finds itself confined to the margins of society and increasingly viewed with suspicion, yet school-based RE simply explains that the values, teaching and beliefs of religious and non-religious beliefs have a commonality. Understanding this commonality helps young people integrate, question and see where we are going wrong.
It came as a surprise to me that not all countries teach RE in schools; it is so important in understanding each other’s belief systems and why we have them. Educating children about empathy, compassion and tolerance is an important tool in preventing fundamentalism and extremism, allowing kids a space to ask stupid questions and to develop ideas that might be different from their parents. Helping schools teach better RE can only help grow a more understanding world view, and kinder, more integrated citizens.
Taught well, RE is vital to creating an inclusive ethos within any school, especially those in difficult and challenging areas. Love is a word rarely used in school, yet RE is about creating a sense of love, tolerance and respect amongst young people as they go out into the world.
Tensions, suspicions, mistrust and misinformation about religious and non-religious beliefs have bred a fear of difference. School-based RE is vital to combat this; it is a safe place where all young people feel included and not frightened or wary of difference, and instead gain a respect for others and stronger moral values.
RE is an important subject for individuals and society and the work of the RE Council is so vital to ensuring its sustainability and raising its profile. The University of Winchester has always been committed to training high quality professional RE teachers to educate future generations. As Vice-Chancellor I am delighted to be a patron of the RE Council and to support such a committed and talented group.
One of the great strengths of the United Kingdom is our diversity. From the Huguenots to the present day – people of all religions have decided to make their homes here. It is vital that we teach the history and traditions of these faiths and beliefs throughout people’s formative years, so that young people can critically and analytically come to their own conclusions about their spirituality, with access to as much information as possible. I am sure that the Religious Education Council will continue to build upon and further develop RE in our schools for many years to come and – as a member of one of Britain’s smallest recognised faith groups, Zoroastrianism – I am very grateful to the Religious Education Council for all that they are doing to inform, educate and develop a mature and balanced attitude towards religious education in our schools.