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National curriculum for RS?

Discussion in 'Religious Education' started by deut, Jul 1, 2011.

  1. deut

    deut New commenter

    <font size="2">.</font><font size="2">I think it would make a huge difference if there was a national curriculum for RS at KS3 and it was no longer subject to SACREs. It would make it easier to share resources, to have subject textbooks and other resources drawn up to a national curriculum framework. I honestly think that is the only step forward for RS if it is to survive. I find it worrying when I ask teachers, arriving from other schools, what RS is like in these schools and they are generally pretty negative. My present Head told me that he had never taught in a school with a proper RS department before. RS teaching, he informed me, was generally rubbish. He has thank goodness come round and is enormously supportive of RS now.</font><font size="2">Unless we campaign for significant changes to the national organisation of RS it will eventually disappear. Not for a few years but it will go unless we have the support of the public.</font><font size="2">I do hope I am wrong. I love RS. It is popular and lively and relevant when taught well. However I know from most Ofsted national inspections that it is often badly taught. National curriculum status would make it easier to monitor the subject and to &lsquo;hone&rsquo; resources.</font><font size="2">I would be interested to hear what you think about this? NATRE do a great job and I would love to see them produce a national RE curriculum.</font>
  2. SteveWoodhouse

    SteveWoodhouse New commenter

    Quite agree.
    The only caveat I'd offer is that it'd be good if it were a little flexible, so that (for example) in an area with a lot of Sikhs you can look in more detail at a gurdwara, in an area with a lot of Jews you can focus more on a synagogue, and in a very 'mixed' area you have the freedom to look at lots of different places of worship.
    That's if you look at places of worship, of course.
    Resources should become more plentiful, and cheaper. Assessment could be standardised.
    Steve W
  3. Absolutely agree with National Curriculum for RE. I feel very strongly about it. Even if faith schools, academies, independent schools etc. don't have to follow it, it would still provide a backbone. QCA non-statutory guidance that exists is good, but does not have the status of the National Curriculum.
  4. The issue will come to a head when SACREs will have very few schools in local government control. Reviewing Agreed Syllabuses is a massive task and it would be ridiculous to go through the process when you only have a couple of schools in your education authority that will benefit.
  5. Skitashi

    Skitashi New commenter

    When I was doing my teacher training in RE, looking at the role of SACREs, somebody piped up that SACRE's reflecting the religious character of an area...........
    ....... it would be similar to studying geography and your school was in a hilly area, you would concentrate on the geography of hills and if you lived by the sea, well why bother with those pesky mountains?
    You get my point...
    Oh and my vote for National Curriculum for RE
  6. durgamata

    durgamata Occasional commenter

    I disagree because the whole field of RE is so vast that any National Curriculum would be like putting it into a straight jacket and loose the energy and relevance that you get when you can work with the Sacre provision.

    Some would want to include the six major religions - which would all have to be covered in similar depth (or shallowness) and no space or opportunity to follow up other religions and world views or local issues or items in the news. Then there would be the question of an approach which focusses on religions or one which uses themes. Different approaches are good. I think that HOD's should have the freedom to choose the approach which works best for them and their students. That's what makes RE so joyful and inspiring. We would loose all of that if we were bound by a narrow, prescriptive curriculum. It would inevitably dumb down what we can do, focus on the learning about (which is easier to prescribe and assess) and generally change the nature of RE completely.

    So many young people complain that whenever they ask anything in science or geography for example they are brushed off with 'can't discuss that, it's not on the curriculum.' In contrast, if my students have an interest which they want to discuss or explore, I can usually make space for it, especially at ks 3. We have a freedom and space for real creativity which encourages discussion, reflection and engagement.

    To improve RE we need proper staffing with qualified Specialist RE teachers - proper funding and the opportunity to take students on visits once a year, When we have specialist teachers who are given the opportunity to do CPD with things like the RE Conference I went on last week, space to explore new creative ways of making RE relevant and alive, then the quality of RE will shine. Too much prescriptiveness would kill it.

    RE is about real people and real life. I think the Sacre system is excellent because it brings in the life and energy of the local area. Considering who our students are, what they know and where their interests and experiences may lie is not like thinking of different geographical features. In RE we learn about the whole world of religion. We don't concentrate on the 'local' religions and exclude those which are not well represented - but we do link with the local area and experience and take this as a rich resource to build on.

    There is no doubt that in Geography and History we have a focus on Britain and Europe, which is natural and good. But if we have large numbers of students from another part of the world, who have relatives there and go there regularly, it would make sense to give some time and focus to learning about those areas, too. I think that is a more accurate comparison.

    One of the best things about RE is the flexibility and capacity to link it with what is happening in the local area and in the news. I often hear myself saying, 'You can't learn Religious Education from a text-book. RE is about life, about real people.' I set a lot of questionnaire and research homework activities which relate to the local, national or international news.
  7. durgamata

    durgamata Occasional commenter

    Fiona Bruce MP gave a good example of this in her Westminster debate

    One teacher told me - ?Good RE teaching can promote positive values for young people and society. ?She sites the example of James Delaney a twelve year old boy murdered at Elsmere Port in Cheshire. He was from a Traveller family. She speaks from a close perspective with experience of teaching in his area?.

    ?When they move into an area, often their children in school may be exposed to bullying in response to what they may here their parents or other adults saying... Getting children to empathise and step into the shoes of a family whose 12 year old son was murdered because he was a traveller proved to be a helpful and powerful way of challenging perceptions and wrongly held views...?
  8. durgamata

    durgamata Occasional commenter

    Lat Blaylock spoke of the importance of ensuring RE is ENGAGING, SPIRITUAL and RIGOROUS. If we had a National Curriculum for RE I guess it would be hard to make it engaging (that is something that the SACRE syllabus tends to strengthen) it would be extremely difficult to make it spiritual, mainly because this is the aspect that many RE specialists find difficult, so it needs a lot of insets and CPD to ensure we can do it, even now. It is unlikely that those who would be drawing up any National Curriculum syllabus would be able to give this aspect a focus. and again, to keep spirituality fresh it needs to respond to the relationships that our students have with - self understanding, each other, the planet and their concept of God.

    Rigorous, yes, any curriculum can be rigorous, but without the engaging aspect and the spiritual aspect it would be likely to be limited, dry and almost irrelevant. I hope we are never squashed and squeezed into that kind of straight-jacket or box.

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