Tag Archives: RE

The RE APPG Reports its Findings

After a twelve month enquiry, the RE APPG recently released its findings on the state of RE in schools today. The report makes for very sorry reading, but reinforces what most in the RE world already knew: That RE is being undervalued and undermined. It’s being squeezed out of the timetable, funding is being reduced and children are being given a bad deal.

  • Over 50% of those teaching RE in secondary schools have no qualification or relevant expertise in the subject
  • A quarter of all primary schools that responded said the lesson was given by a teaching assistant
  • Primary and primary trainee teachers lack confidence and expertise in teaching RE, especially in diverse and multi-cultural classrooms
  • Support for RE teachers at a local level has been dramatically reduced by local authority funding cuts and the academies programme
  • Bursaries for RE trainees have been removed and there has been a radical reduction in applicant numbers for 2013/14
  • Because of this lack of training and support many of those teaching RE are unable to meet the Department for Education’s Teaching Standards, selling young people short in their schools.

This makes for very sorry reading. Whatever you think about the place of RE in the curriculum, it is currently there and young people study it. Why not give it appropriate funding, time and training for it to be of real benefit to those who study it. Imagine if it did and received the best training and teachers. The possibilities are endless!

I think it’ll be interesting to see how the RE Review responds and the recommendations it makes to take RE forward. And then we just need Gove to join us all in 2013 and accept the recommendations!

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Computer Science is more important than RE?

Today the government announced that Computer Science is going to be included in the English Baccalaureate. It will count as a science alongside physics, chemistry and biology. This follows Gove scrapping ICT and bringing in a more challenging computer curriculum, in order to meet the demand of technology in the wider world. Last October saw computer giants Google and Microsoft called upon Gove to include the new computer science curriculum in the EBacc.

This is quite an interesting move by Gove. Quite rightly, the current ICT curriculum is inadequate in preparing students for the wider world, especially for students who leave school straight after GCSE’s and head out into the world of work. However, there are a few issues with including it in the EBacc. Firstly, money. One of the main reasons that ICT has been inadequate is the lack of funding that has historically run alongside it. Technology moves very quickly and a lot of schools have failed to keep up with it due to financial restraints. So I’d quite like to see Gove put his money where his mouth is and support schools to deliver the new Computer Science component adequately. Secondly, while I think the inclusion of a more rigorous IT course is a good move, it has come at the expense of other equally worthwhile subjects. RE and the Arts have suffered greatly under the creation of the EBacc and this is a massive error on Goves’ part. There are many benefits for students to have to take an art through to GCSE, and RE is going to continue to be marginalised.

But RE isn’t going anywhere for now. And it’s not being quiet about the contant attacks from Gove. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing about how the RE community is fighting back. To start with, the RE Council has launched a campaign, ReThink RE.

ReThink RE

The campaign is clear. Good quality RE for all students. And for that to happen, it should be treated equally alongside other Humanities subjects.

Our aim is simple. We want to see every young person in every school given access to good quality RE. And we are urging those responsible to rethink their approach to RE.

RE links very well with the other Humanities subjects so including it with the EBacc gives it the same status. Why Gove is so against this I don’t know. But RE plays a vital role in a young persons education and it is worth fighting for.

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My first ever Guardian blog post!

So there I was yesterday, sitting at my desk, writing some resources for a project I’m working on. I always have Twitter open on my desktop, just so I can keep up with what’s going on. Plus, when you work at home on your own it’s nice to talk to people online.

Anyway, @GuardianTeach tweeted and asked if there were any RE teachers interested in blogging. Naturally I retweeted but I also replied saying that it was a shame they didn’t tweet last year when I actually was one. They replied, suggesting I get in touch anyway. So I did. I love a good blog and was definitely interested. They wanted a response to Professor James Conroy’s report on the state of RE in schools today. I was able to be honest in my response to the findings within the report.

To say it was easy is an understatement. I know budgets are tight within schools, always have, always will be. But I’ve been on the side where you have to make your budget stretch more than most. I wasn’t shocked by the findings. I had to fight RE’s corner many times. It’s not always respected by most of the other staff. And that’s what makes the RE teachers job harder. No matter how hard you stretch your budget, how many pens you ‘borrow’ from certain Swedish furniture shops, you feel like you’re fighting a losing battle.

I can remember on inset days after the summer holidays when the whole staff would meet & we would go through the exam results. As someone who was super conscientious & worked incredibly hard for her students, this was torture. At times, RE is taught by non-specialists who don’t always have the subject knowledge. And sometimes it doesn’t matter how hard you work, students don’t always do the work. So sitting with the results up on the PowerPoint, I wanted to jump up & say, ‘But you don’t know how hard I’ve worked, it’s not fair, we don’t have any money, there are only 2 of us, we only have an hour a week, we teach everyone, we did our best!’ I never did shout this out, but I have mini-panic attacks over it.

I’m not saying other teachers don’t work hard or have tough times or difficult working environments. But if RE is as important as the Government suggests then they need to back it up. Come on Gove, put your money where your mouth is!

To read my blog post, have a read of it here. Let me know what you think. My budget for the year was about £800 for way more students. What are your experiences? What’s your budget like?

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