Agenda item

Report from Religious Education (RE) Today

[To receive an update report from RE Today] [to be tabled]


Stephen Pett, RE Today, delivered the Religious Education news update for Wolverhampton SACRE.


Commission on Religious Education (RE) – It was generally felt that the response of the Secretary of State to the Commission on RE Report had been disappointing and slightly inaccurate in that it should have referred to religion and world views. It was also felt that it did not address all that had been requested. It was noted that it was an initial rather than final response and continued work was required. One recommendation was that SACRE become a network rather than act as a committee, however the Group would continue to hold responsibility for the syllabus for the foreseeable future.


National Association of Teachers of Religious Education (NATRE) Annual Surveys -It was reported that NATRE had released the results of its national NATRE Primary Survey 2018 which had been conducted with over 500 primary teachers across the country.


It was highlighted that survey results indicated that:


1.    Nearly half of trainee primary teachers have had between zero and three hours of RE training

2.    30% of primary RE teachers had had no subject specific training in the last year, not even in a staff meeting

3.    1/3 of teachers who started teaching in the last five years have no qualification in RE, not even a GCSE

4.    Over 50% of schools have a HLTA taking some of their RE lessons

5.    Many primary schools do not give adequate time for RE


Concerns were raised in respect of point three that one third of teaching staff had not undertaken enough study to teach the subject to a high standard. It was noted, however that this still indicated that the two thirds or the majority did have satisfactory qualifications. Members were directed to the link provided to see the results in full:


Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (OFSTED) Draft Inspection Framework -It was highlighted that OFSTED were aware of the compliance issues around RE and the new framework pushed toward exploring the intent of the curriculum and the impact and outcomes for pupils rather than just results. Attention was drawn to page 41, paragraph 159 of the framework document that stated, “All pupils in maintained schools are expected to study the national curriculum subjects, religious education and age-appropriate sex education.” It was agreed that it was positive that the importance of the subject of RE had been recognised and that the framework had a strong agreed syllabus that focused on purpose.


It was noted that, following the inspection of several church schools, the ethos of the school had been the main focus.


Withdrawal Information – This related to withdrawal of children from studying RE by their parents and it was highlighted that written guidance was available from NATRE jointly with the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) to inform further. It was noted that some children were only withdrawn from selected aspects of RE rather than from the subject as a whole. This was not strictly what withdrawal was for but could be done through following the guidance provided.


Secondary Survey – It was highlighted that a survey was being conducted to ascertain the current role for RE in secondary schools in order to continue to offer support to teachers of RE. Members were encouraged to cascade this information to schools and it was highlighted that the closing date for response was Friday, 12 April 2019.


Year of Belief and Values BBC – It was highlighted that there were plenty of resources being made available this year by the BBC. These included a series of programmes on religion and belief with animated programmes for Primary school children and a range aimed at key stage three and GSCE pupils on BBC Bitesize.


Primary 1000 Support for Schools – The project was designed to enable 1000 primary schools to offer better RE provision for pupils. The schools that registered would be entitled to a number of resources to help them achieve this. It was reported that 25 of the 260 schools in the area had signed up already and it was important that more were encouraged to participate. It was requested that any member identified any schools that were not engaging so they could be contacted for nomination.


Regional Ambassadors – It was reported that in October 2018, Naomi Anstice had been appointed the National Ambassador for Religious Education Networks as part of a project to establish a long-term sustainable structure providing local support for RE teachers. The creation of ten regional areas, each with its own ambassador who would bring experience from a range of educational settings, had been implemented. The regional ambassador for the West Midlands was identified as Chris Giles, a teacher from South Bromsgrove High school. It was agreed that his details be passed to SACRE members outside of the meeting. Naomi Anstice’s details were also provided.


Following the update, it was confirmed that the Understanding Islam project was still in progress. An advisory group had been established with the next meeting on 28 March 2019. It was anticipated that the implementation date would be around May 2020 and ready for use in schools by August 2020. It was reported to be the second in a series of introductory programmes to various faiths, the first being Understanding Christianity implemented in 2016, which had been well-received and was now used in around 4,500 schools. There was a third to be developed to cover Hinduism. The programmes had been designed as an approach to inform about belief systems within faiths without imposing a view.



1.    That the Update from RE Today be received.

2.    That contact details for Chris Giles, Regional Ambassador be shared outside the meeting.