Welcome to the new RE Council blog! It comes at an important time for RE. The cumulative consequences of the government’s changes to education for RE as distinctly challenging for the whole RE community. The continued exclusion of RE from the English Baccalaureate (despite the much-vaunted U-turn by Michael Gove on the EBacc certificates) threatens the status and uptake of RE in key stage 4 with unpredictable but potentially serious knock-on effects to the sixth form and key stage 3; the slashing of RE PGCE places and the removal of bursaries threaten the supply of specialist RE teachers; and the uncertainties of curriculum and qualification reform threaten to undo the achievements of the past twenty years. You can see the picture set out in stark detail in the recently published first report of the newly created All Party Parliamentary Group on RE.
The RE Council, on behalf of the whole RE community, is not sitting back and wringing its hands. Through its strategic plan, the RE Council is galvanising, through its 64 and rising member bodies, faith communities, teachers and other practitioners, RE interest groups and others, to be the voice and advocate for RE. The REC is filling the void left by the government’s dismantling of national support and the collapse of local support for RE.
The RE APPG is one example of the REC’s PR work, and will prove crucial in the struggle to hold ministers to account for the effect of their policies on RE and to get them to support RE in practice rather than simply mouth platitudes.
Another example is the recently launched RethinkRE website – a PR campaign for support right across the spectrum of stakeholders in RE.
The REC’s review of RE, parallel to the government’ review of the National Curriculum (which the government refused to help fund, despite its grant to the PSE subject organisation of £100,000 to undertake its curriculum review) will report in September and provide a parallel curriculum document for RE for use in LAs and academies. The REC is also picking up the baton for the RE community on qualifications reform.
In May, Ofsted’s three-year ‘long’ report on RE is due. This will not be comfortable reading for anybody. The REC is already pressing for a meeting with ministers to get an action plan in the light of what is expected to be a series of critical recommendations.
In August we shall see the impact of the EBacc on GCSE Religious Studies entries, and we fear unambiguous evidence of a decline, something which the DfE have so far refused to accept despite NATRE’s evidence in surveys over two years now.
2013 is thus a critical year for RE. Do keep your eye on this site and follow my blog.