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Saving RE

Discussion in 'Religious Education' started by delahay, Dec 3, 2010.

  1. delahay

    delahay New commenter

    This was sent to me by the area RE PGCE coordinator. Any thoughts?

    'Dear RE Teachers

    We need to begin campaigning now for the inclusion of Religious
    Education/Studies in the proposed English Baccalaureate humanities
    subject list. RE is omitted while history and geography are included. This
    means any good work done in RE will not be reflected in the league
    tables and Heads will be under pressure to focus on those subjects
    which are.

    We need to actively engage with this issue now. It is felt that
    Headteachers are much more likely to be heard by local MPs and the
    Education Secretaries than anyone else so you could consider drafting
    a letter for your headteacher which emphasizes the importance of RE in
    terms of what it does for community cohesion, interfaith
    understanding, and exploring the heritage values of the country -
    tolerance, respect, etc.

    I would suggest sending it to your local MP
    (http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/) and Mr Gove as well.

    The lack of reference to spiritual and moral education and religious
    education in these plans, the white paper and other Government
    statements mus be treated as a red light alarm. We need to maximise
    our networks now so forward this message to RE teachers you know are
    not on the google groups email list. encourage others to contact me
    to be put on this list.

    If you know of other RE lists then forward it to those and let me know
    about them.

    I fear that unless we make a big response now we will be in a
    significantly weakened position and there is a real chance the growth
    of the subject in last decade will subside.'
     
  2. delahay

    delahay New commenter

    This was sent to me by the area RE PGCE coordinator. Any thoughts?

    'Dear RE Teachers

    We need to begin campaigning now for the inclusion of Religious
    Education/Studies in the proposed English Baccalaureate humanities
    subject list. RE is omitted while history and geography are included. This
    means any good work done in RE will not be reflected in the league
    tables and Heads will be under pressure to focus on those subjects
    which are.

    We need to actively engage with this issue now. It is felt that
    Headteachers are much more likely to be heard by local MPs and the
    Education Secretaries than anyone else so you could consider drafting
    a letter for your headteacher which emphasizes the importance of RE in
    terms of what it does for community cohesion, interfaith
    understanding, and exploring the heritage values of the country -
    tolerance, respect, etc.

    I would suggest sending it to your local MP
    (http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/) and Mr Gove as well.

    The lack of reference to spiritual and moral education and religious
    education in these plans, the white paper and other Government
    statements mus be treated as a red light alarm. We need to maximise
    our networks now so forward this message to RE teachers you know are
    not on the google groups email list. encourage others to contact me
    to be put on this list.

    If you know of other RE lists then forward it to those and let me know
    about them.

    I fear that unless we make a big response now we will be in a
    significantly weakened position and there is a real chance the growth
    of the subject in last decade will subside.'
     
  3. matryoshkadoll

    matryoshkadoll Occasional commenter

    Has this got more to do with the fact that RE is part of the base curriculum rather than the national curriculum? Ef. RE is not legally obliged to report levels - this was confirmed by an Ofsted report at my last school 2 years ago.

    [​IMG]
     
  4. I am not sure this is connected - there seems to be a lack of knowledge from our political leaders about the importance of RE and what it is about in our modern society. For example, they confuse collective worship with RE.
     
  5. durgamata

    durgamata Occasional commenter

    I fully agree with this suggestion,
    I think that there is a lot of misunderstanding about RE in society and in school. Any oportunity should be used to improve understanding. Any possible threats, such as appear in the current situation need to be taken seriously and addressed in the strongest way possible. I agree with what delahay expresses so clearly
    There is such a strong atheist/humanist lobby (extreme and exclusivist, in the line of Dawkins and using the kind of argument which entraps those who do not understand the real nature of RE well) - that the current situation really is dangerous.
    RE is unique in it's role. Weaker RE means a more divided and dangerous society, more tension, poorer community cohesion and more individual stress and misery. The better we understand the religious and spiritual aspect of life, the better we understand each other and the more inner peace and happiness we have for our own lives, our families, society and the whole world.
    There is a real possibility - even likelihood - that changes may be brought in which affect RE in a negative way - but if we can use this opportunity to inform and educate those who are making the changes RE could be strengthened both legally and in the minds of head teachers, MP's and in a smaller way to the nation as a whole.
    While I agree with the other posters on this thread I don't think that their comments contradict the real urgent need for us to clarify the role and unique position of RE for our smt/headteachers and for Gove and MP's - and lobby for it to be included clearly and consciously within the new
     
  6. delahay

    delahay New commenter

    This came from the chief executive of NATRE:
    'Hello everyoneOn Thursday Michael Gove wrote to every secondary school to let themknow which subjects are included in the English Baccalaureate. As wefeared, RE is not included – the humanities list is limited to Historyand Geography. This is situation is serious for RE and I am getting in touch to askif you and your teacher contacts would consider writing to MichaelGove (Secretary of State), Nick Gibb (Schools Minister) the MP of yourschool’s constituency, and the MP of the constituency where you live.NATRE and other professional associations have written, and we knowthat a significant impact will be made if teachers write to express their concerns.
    If you feel it is appropriate, and I hope you do, then pleaseencourage your contacts to write as a matter of urgency. The final date for comments on the White Paper is 8th December – butwe need letter to be sent beyond that date – as the White Paper willbe going through the Commons and Lords for some time. I offer below some text from an email sent to Michael Gove by a NATREmember. Feel free to use this as a guide – about length, tone, andfocus. BUT - do urge teachers to ‘make it their own’ as Ministers tendto ignore carbon copies of letters, seeing it as a campaign. So somedifferent text, and examples from the writer’s own school orexperience will be ideal. I give contact email addresses below. Also - the REC will be launching a PR campaign on 15 December, whichwill include a press release of some positive results from anindependent national survey, briefings for MPs and more. The presswill undoubtedly pick this up and will no doubt want to speak toteachers as well a representatives from subject associations. I wouldbe extremely grateful if you could identify, alert and let me know ofanyone from your networks who might be appropriate, available and goodwith the media. Thank you again for anything you are able to do to help raise thegovernment’s awareness of the importance of RE and the urgency ofensuring it is included in the E Bacc. Best wishes Rosemary __________ Email for Michael Gove: http://www.parliament.uk/about/contacting/mp/ website to track the progress of a Bill: http://services.parliament.uk/bills/#s Dear Mr Gove I am writing to make the point that it is imperative that religiousstudies GCSE be included in the EBacc list of humanities subjects. The number of students taking GCSE RS over the last 15 years hasincreased from 113 000 to about 460 000. This reflects the success ofsubject teaching, and is a key contribution to the development of goodsubject learning. In RE, pupils learn to respect themselves andunderstand their own identity and to respect others as well. The multidisciplinary nature of the subject, involving textual study,philosophical thinking, ethics, social understanding and the skills ofanalysis and reasoning make it a valued qualification. Please can this adjustment be made to future lists of subjects to be included. Yours sincerely ___________________________________________ Rosemary Rivett Director of Professional Services, RE Today Executive Officer, NATRE'
     
  7. durgamata

    durgamata Occasional commenter

    Thanks Delahay,
    I will respond to this on Sunday (tomorrow) and I beg every RE teacher and interested person to contact Michael Gove and their MP urgently. This one is winnable as they say - but it does depend on us all taking urgent action.
    I suggest we mention our own experiences and examples of our work which have made a difference to the students - to give the variety that you mention

    Best wishes and To Victory
     
  8. I very much agree. Without inclusion in the English Bacc, RE will be marginalised and, as more schools become Academies, might disappear, because Academies are not required to teach RE. Write to your MP now!
     
  9. just done my letter - to Mr Gove, my MP and school MP

     
  10. poppy2004

    poppy2004 New commenter

    I did it and got this reply today... [​IMG]

    <table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" style="font-size:12pt;font-family:Arial;" id="yiv964415038Table1"><tr><td colspan="2">Thank you for your email of 28 November to the Secretary of State about the humanities subjects that will form part of the English Baccalaureate. Due to the large volume of letters the Secretary of State receives, I have been asked to respond to your question.

    </td></tr></table>The English Baccalaureate has been introduced due to concerns that the number of students who currently receive a broad education in core academic subjects is far too small. This is particularly the case for students in disadvantaged areas. The English Baccalaureate is designed to recognise the success of those students who attain GCSEs or iGCSEs at grade A*-C across a small core of academic subjects. The subjects included in the English Baccalaureate will be English, maths, history or geography, the sciences and a language. It is hoped the English Baccalaureate will encourage more students to study these core subjects and open up opportunities for all students to have the chance to study them regardless of which school they go to. Special recognition will be given in the performance tables to those schools which help their students attain this breadth of achievement and the achievement of individual students will be marked through a certificate.




    However, whilst the English Baccalaureate will give students the opportunity to study a core of academic subjects, it does not mean that their choices or opportunities for wider or further study will be restricted. The core of subjects in the English Baccalaureate is small enough to allow students to choose other qualifications and areas of study that are of interest to them. Study in other subjects will be just as, or possibly more, valuable to young people depending on what they want to go on to do after 16. It is therefore important that their study choices are based on what they need so they can progress in the way they would like. We recognise the wider benefits that studying subjects such as Religious Education and Philosophy and Applied Ethics can bring and we will encourage all students to study non-English Baccalaureate subjects alongside the core subjects so they get a well rounded education.

    so fed up...
     
  11. durgamata

    durgamata Occasional commenter

    Try not to be so much fed up as angry and then use that energy and emotion to keep on with the campaign. We really must fight this
     
  12. I think this combined with the pressure on schools to be Academies is the real issue. In schools that remain 'state' schools RE will probably stay with the same status it currently has (for better or worse).
    The real danger I feel is in schools which become academies. These do not have to teach the national curriculum and can opt out of RE teaching. If there is no benefit to them in the league tables either then I can see a lot of them dropping RE. If however the results are included in the league tables then many will see the value of continuing to deliver RS GCSE's, which in many schools achieve good results despite reduced curriculum time.
     
  13. Here is my letter and email to Michael Gove. Feel free to ammend and use as you feel necessary.

    Dear Mr Gove

    I am writing to make the point, which you have hopefully recieved from a number of collegaues across the country, that it is imperative for the Religious Studies GCSE be included in the EBacc list of Humanities subjects. The number of students taking GCSE RS over the last 15 years hasincreased from 113 000 to about 460 000. This reflects the success of subject teaching, and is a key contribution to the development of good subject learning. RS is the only subject on the curriuclum whereby students get the opportunity to develop an understanding of the cultural makeup of Britain and consider important issues relevant to an increasing globalised world. Students, through study, gain respect for themselves and begin to understand their own cultural identity as well as that of their fellow community members. The multidisciplinary nature of the subject, involving textual study,philosophical thinking, ethical reasoning, social understanding enable students to develop important skills of analysis and evaluation make it a valued qualification that is necessary in 21st Century Britain. The study of RS at university is highly respected and without a fair reflection in secondary education this important academic institution will suffer.

    I recognise the opportunity that the EBacc gives students, allowing them to specialise and understand the connections between important academic areas of study necessary to life - I just question the decision to leave out RS. I worry that without government support for this essential subject the same problem you are attempting to overcome for MFL will be transfered to RS.

    Finally, by including RS in the list of humanities subjects you will ensure the skill set of thousands of teachers will remain in a subject area that they are confident and trained in, rather than being shifted to other subjects in a bid to retain excellent teachers.
     
  14. poppy2004

    poppy2004 New commenter

    I think this bit is so ambiguous and I replied to have clarification for what it means.
    Does it mean that league tables will continue as they as now and that schools will be highlighted for the English Baccalaureate (which gives us a fighting chance of maintaining RE's status as an exam option)
    Or does it mean that league tables will focus only on the English Baccalaureate? (which will screw us over!)

     
  15. All far too ambiguous for my liking.
    Have contacted my own and school's MP but not had a reply from either as yet.
    To make it worse, my school is now on it's way to becomining an academy!
    S
     
  16. well we had a visitation from the man him self today -Mr Gove- just watched him drive out. the SLT kept me away!!!!! i wonder why??????
    not seen anyone who did get to meet him yet so still not too sure what he actually wanted. i did ask a member of staff who was invited to meet him to raise the issue but i dont hold out any hope as they are not an RS teacher.
    i dont think it was my letter that propmted the visit- as other poster shows a minyan is sending out the replys.

     
  17. Am not sure about some of the sats. being quoted. According to the Joint Council for Qualifications, only 188,704 students sat the GCSE full course this summer.
    In the letters to Government, I would be very wary bundling up short course GCSE stats in with the full course. It so happens that this summer, the full course take up was only 6,000 or so behind Geography, but a long way behind History.
    We include the stats. for the short course at our peril. It is commonly believed that a short course is 'easy' and consequently befits RE (again, the stats show that hardly any students do the short courses available for history and geography). We can object to this misconception as much as we like, but it may be one of the reasons why Gove doesn't value RS as an academic subject, as much as he values our 'rivals'.

     
  18. andrew07

    andrew07 Occasional commenter

    Well actually, Michael Gove DOES value RS as an academic subject. The fact is, a person can choose Geography OR History. You don't see those subject leaders jumping out of the window just because they BOTH can't be on there.

    What I'm seeing is that you all are blowing this all out of proportion. Also, most academies do teach RS. Most private independent schools teach RS. Most schools try and follow the curriculum as much as possible even though they may have their own way of going about it.
    Bottom line is, RS is here to stay. Music and Art didn't get on the list either. They aren't jumping out of windows and setting themselves on fire. Chill out. This is one of the reasons why I'm losing interest in teaching the subject. You all seem to think that RS should be above everything else and most of the people that I see teaching it, including my HOD use the subject to force their own beliefs on the children they teach. In fact, I'm looking at leaving the subject all together as degree is History anyway.
     
  19. It's a shame your school does bad RE. Fortunately, most of us have positive experiences of the subject and support its development in every way we can.
     
  20. durgamata

    durgamata Occasional commenter

    The issue is simple, Andrew07, Gove says there should be 'a Humanities subject' included in the English Bacc - and RE is a Humanities subject. But then he chooses just two of the Humanities subjects to include.
    If a school is to be judged by who has a GCSE in Geography or History - and we are in the same 'option block' (because we are all Humanities subjects) then naturally the school will encourage students to opt for Geog or History rather than RE. We are already seeing a lot of schools marginalise RE (as the school where I used to work did, cutting out all RE exam work even though we had excellent results and reducing our timetable to once a fortnight - just to save money by reducing staff, freeing up time for a hobies afternoon.)
    In view of this (which is a response caused by the widespread secular atheism which is popular in this country at the moment meaning that many HT's and SMT's think it is not important) then anything like Gove's recent edict is going to worry those of us who know how important RE is.
    Like Art and Music RE develops certain qualities, certain skills, which other subjects can not do in the same way. But unlike Art and Music it is a Humanities Subject. Those other subjects are not affected by Gove's edict. They are neither promoted nor demoted. But if RE is not included in the Humanities Bacc options it will be demoted. This is reality, not some kind of prejudice-based over reaction or something we are 'blowing out of all proportion.'
    When the law is that all children are taught RE / RS how can anyone who considers it a sufficiently important subject to make it their career be happy that 'most' schools teach it - in other words some are happy to break the law (or distort / twist it as they did in my school)?
    Basically some schools are neglecting a legal requirement and as a result causing their students to remain woefully ignorant of a discipline which is very important for their own self-understanding, understanding of the world they live in and understanding of the different people who live in our society and our world. This is serious stuff - and it's the reality now. If Gove's Bacc ideas are not challenged, if RE is excluded, this will get worse. And that actually means that our society will become more fragmented and dangerous.
    America is a good example of a country where they have no RE. As a result the spiritual lives of people are not nourished and when they feel the need for the guidance and support of a religious community they can be very easily manipulated and led astray. I will upload a resource about the Jim Jones incident (the biggest loss of civilian life in the USA until 9 11 came along.) - as an example. Also, on the subject of 9 11, the work we do to help our Muslim students understand their own Islam better (it is often those who grew up in secular Muslim homes and then had their sense of identity and faith hijacked by the politically motivated extremists - as was the case with the recent bomber in Sweden) and our non-Muslim students to understand Islam better. There is no other subject that can do this.
    I will also upload the account of how in my own teaching this kind of expanding understanding can take place.
    These are all serious matters. We need to fight to ensure that RE is not diluted or pushed to the margins of the curriculum.
    What a load of old bull. Show me anywhere where any of us have suggested RE / RS should be above everything else. But it is a really important part of the curriculum.
    I am saddened by this experience. In my own career I have seen it - but only when an HOD has atheistical tendencies. One HOD (when I was training as an RE teacher) gave a lesson on the resurrection. The students were given a range of different possible explanations - but actual resurrection was not even on the list.
    I taught in a Catholic school for a while where the HOD gave me a list of miracles to explore with my GCSE class. All well and good - but he picked ones which he considered 'explainable' and gave me the 'explanations' to teach with them (such as the crowd of 5000 had all brought a bit of lunch and when the boy came forward with his loaves and fishes they were all inspired to share - so that everyone was able to eat.
    It is very important in RE that we do just what the subject says. We EDUCATE our students about the whole world of religion. I think it is important to be clear with our students about our own views because there is no such thing as a neutral position - and they have a right to understand where we are coming from - but there should be absolutely no 'telling them what to believe.' I always tell my students that my job is to enable them to think more deeply and clearly - not to teach them what to think.
    There are two aspects to RE - one is to enable our students to understand their own views and beliefs better, to be able to explain and defend them. The other is to be able to step into the shoes of others and see through their eyes. I tell my students that RE is like a dance, we have to be able to see in different ways, to understand different viewpoints.
    And in my view the most important thing in RE is to open our students eyes to life, to thinking about life in a deep way, to exploring situations, experiences, issues in a deep way because as Socratese said - the unexamined life is not worth living. RE is like all the religions teach - something that enables you to live life more fully and engage in that great eternal (and absolutely personal) quest for truth.
    Come to think about it, can any subject be more important than that? (Of course if I thought the answer to that was 'Yes' I would have trained in that subject and not in the 'Queen of the Sciences' - Theology!
     

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