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‘Good schools must teach fully inclusive RE,’ Humanists UK tells Ofsted

Ofsted must ensure that schools teach RE that is fully inclusive of non-religious worldviews like humanism before giving them a positive inspection rating, Humanists UK has said. The statement was made Humanists UK Response to Ofsted EIF Consultation 2019 on the inspectorate’s draft new education inspection framework (EIF), which places a greater emphasis on the curriculum through the introduction of a new ‘quality of education’ judgement.

Humanists UK, which has long called for the introduction of a separate inspection grade assessing the curriculum, largely welcomes the new framework and accompanying handbooks as a way to ensure that schools offer their pupils a broad and balanced education.

However, the EIF is not perfect. Key concerns include the fact that, although Religious Education is listed as a compulsory subject, it is not clear that it must include non-religious perspectives like humanism – something that ensures the subject is taught in-line with the Human Rights Act 1998, which treats religious and non-religious worldviews equally. This was also a key recommendation of the landmark Commission on RE report, which proposed that the subject be renamed ‘Religion and Worldviews’ to make schools aware of this broader scope.

Humanists UK Education Campaigns Manager Ruth Wareham Commented:

‘There is much to welcome about the new education inspection framework, particularly the introduction of a new “quality of education” judgement which recognises the importance of a well-structured, broad, and balanced curriculum.

‘Nevertheless, improvements still need to be made. Not only do the new handbooks fail to emphasise the necessity of teaching fully inclusive RE that includes non-religious worldviews at all key stages, but the terminology used to refer to religion and belief is inconsistent. Spiritual, moral, social, and cultural education are also poorly defined, meaning that schools might be able to get positive inspection results in this area when pupil development isn’t as good as it should be.

‘We strongly urge Ofsted to amend the text of the handbooks to make them fully inclusive of humanism. It should also provide more detail in the sections on spiritual, moral, social and cultural development – ideally based on the excellent guidance it issued on the subject in 2004. That way, only schools which support pupils to be active, engaged citizens who play a positive role in the life of society can receive a good inspection rating.’

NOTES

For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at richy@humanism.org.uk or on 07815589636.

Read our consultation response: https://humanism.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Humanists-UK-Response-to-Ofsted-EIF-Consultation-2019.pdf 

To read our previous article on the Ofsted education inspection framework, visit: https://humanism.org.uk/2019/01/16/focus-on-quality-of-education-after-new-school-inspection-framework-announced/

Read more about our education campaigns work here: https://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/schools-and-education/

Read more about our campaign work on the RE curriculum: https://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/schools-and-education/school-curriculum/religious-education/

At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.

 

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