On Friday, 15th March Stephen Lloyd MP visited the Cavendish School in Eastbourne, where he met with staff and pupils in the RE department which has as an excellent reputation for good quality RE.
The visit comes after MPs published a report on the supply of and support for religious education teachers. The All Party Parliamentary Group on Religious Education is chaired by local MP Stephen Lloyd. He has expressed concern over the teaching of Religious Education (RE) in local schools. The report RE: the truth unmasked found that RE lessons are frequently taught by teachers with no qualifications in the subject. Furthermore the responsibility to educate young people on the different beliefs and values held in society is often given to teaching assistants, who receive little support, training or guidance.
Stephen’s visit to Cavendish School found that the school was continuing to teach good quality RE, but was finding it hard to cope with policies relating to the English Baccalaureate and uncertainty surrounding the future of the subject . One pupil told Stephen that in the past school year “two or three fellow pupils have dropped out from studying the half GCSE short-course this year”.
Pupils who had been taught a good standard of RE at the Cavendish stated how important it was to be taught the subject as it contributes towards mutual respect, understanding of one another and important life skills.
Commenting on the visit, Stephen Lloyd MP said:
“RE teachers at Cavendish School and across Eastbourne are doing an excellent job in ensuring our young grow up with a thorough understanding of the different faiths and beliefs around us – knowledge and skills that will equip them to tackle many of the challenges that life presents.
But the value of RE in schools across the country has been eroded due to various policies relating to the English Baccalaureate, academies and GCSE short courses. These pressures have led to non-specialist teachers trying to fulfill a role which requires expert knowledge and understanding of detailed issues.
We must ensure that students are not short changed and are given the best possible chance to get the most from a subject that will help them thrive in an increasingly multicultural and diverse society.”
The inquiry found that the situation has been compounded by insufficient professional development opportunities for subject leaders, specialist teachers and those who take on the responsibility for teaching RE. Evidence also revealed a wide variation in the amount and quality of initial teacher training for RE with many trainee teachers stating they had little effective preparation to teach the subject.
The report was delivered to the Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove on March 18th. It includes clear recommendations for primary and secondary schools, teacher training providers, local authorities, Ofsted, those providing professional development for teachers, and the Department for Education.
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Colin Hallmark / Harriet Johnson, 3:nine Communications
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Notes to Editors
1. The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Religious Education was set up in November 2012 and is chaired by Eastbourne and Willingdon MP, Stephen Lloyd. In November 2012 it announced its inquiry to investigate the supply of and support for teachers of RE. For a full copy of the report email email@example.com
2. The aims of the APPG are to:
- Promote the highest possible standards of religious education in schools, colleges, universities and academies
- Press for continuous improvement in religious education
- Promote a clear, positive image, and public understanding of religious education
- Advocate that every young person experiences a personally inspiring and academically rigorous education in religious and non-religious worldviews.
3. Statistical data were compiled from school questionnaires sent to a geographical spread of primary RE co-ordinators and secondary heads of department. Over 300 primary schools and 130 secondary schools responded.
4. The Religious Education Council of England and Wales (REC) provides the secretariat to the APPG. The REC is a national organisation that represents a wide range of faiths and beliefs and members include the Church of England, the Catholic Church, the Free Churches, the Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Jain, Zoroastrian and Bahá’í faiths, the British Humanist Association and professional teaching associations.