The Religious Education Council of England and Wales (REC) has today launched a high-profile, independent Commission on Religious Education, ‘to review the legal, education and policy frameworks for RE’. Coming at a time of much uncertainty in RE, with the system of local determination of RE syllabi being undermined by Academisation and with ongoing disputes about the inclusion of non-religious worldviews, the British Humanist Association (BHA) has welcomed the Commission’s establishment as having the potential to provide much-needed clarity and a path for reform.
The last year has seen several major reports being published that have looked at RE, including the A New Settlement report produced by former Education Secretary Charles Clarke and sociologist Linda Woodhead; the RE for Real report produced by Goldsmith’s academics Adam Dinham and Martha Shaw; and the Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life, overseen by the Cambride University Woolf Institute. All three called for RE to be placed on a statutory national footing, and for non-religious worldviews to be included.
The Commission will work for the next two years to produce detailed, evidence-based recommendations of a way forward for RE. The 14 commissioners have been appointed by the REC’s Board in order to ensure a breadth of expertise across teaching, academia, the media, and the law. They also represent a diversity of religions and beliefs, including two humanists.
BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented, ‘With Academisation meaning RE’s legal structures are increasingly falling by the wayside, and ongoing disputes about the nature and purposes of RE, this Commission couldn’t be more timely in ensuring that there is a much-needed clear path for reform. We look forward to working with the Commission over the coming two years to help shape its vision for the future of the subject.’
For further comment or information, please contact BHA Campaigns Manager Richy Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 020 7324 3072.
Remit of the Commission on Religious Education
The REC explains that:
The Commission will consider RE in all schools and colleges in England that educate pupils of any age up to 19, irrespective of whether they are mainstream, special or alternative provision, independent or maintained, and of a religious character or not.
The following areas will be considered by the Commission:
- The quality of teaching and learning in RE
- The legal and structural arrangements
- The public and professional profile of the subject
- Teacher recruitment, Initial Teacher Education and Continuous Professional Development
- The range of school settings in which RE should be required
- The age range for which RE should be required
- The right to withdraw (parents or carers, pupils and teachers)
- Whether or not there should be a common entitlement in RE, and if so what the entitlement should be
Read the REC’s press release: http://religiouseducationcouncil.org.uk/commission-on-re/news/2016-07-08/commission-on-re-press-release
Read more about the BHA’s work on religious education: https://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/schools-and-education/school-curriculum/religious-education/
The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.
The BHA is a member of the REC.