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World News

'I'm not religious, I won't learn anything': RE lessons in the UK to experience significant revamp

by Lydia Davies

The Religious Education Council of England and Wales has introduced an innovative 'toolkit' designed to enhance the quality of Religious Education (RE) in schools across England, responding to Ofsted's call for more depth in RE lessons.

After a comprehensive three-year initiative titled Religion and worldviews in the classroom, this toolkit emerged as a solution, rooted in academic research, classroom insights, and suggestions from the 2018 Commission on RE report.

The report advocated for an academically robust approach that accurately reflects the diverse beliefs and practices found in modern Britain.

The toolkit provides educators with a handbook for curriculum development, three distinct curriculum frameworks, and the National Content Standard for RE in England. It aims to enrich teaching practices by leveraging established best practices across various educational settings.

Ed Pawson, deputy Chair of the Religious Education Council ad devoted Christian, told Premier Christian News: ''In some ways (this new) approach is making it a bit more complex but also making it much more relevant to individual learners."

He added that they want to encourage students to explore their own spirituality: "You often get children who come into the classroom and say 'I'm not religious, I won't learn anything in here'

"Every child should be learning in every classroom. A mature RE classroom actually, in part, begins with where the learner is, and values the fact that every learner has a stake in the subject."

Sarah Lane Cawte, Chair of the REC, emphasised the toolkit's significance. In a statement she said: "This is a major project that reflects a broad consensus across the RE community to help all schools deliver a personally enriching and academically challenging religious education."

Professor Trevor Cooling, who led the academic efforts on this project, elaborated on its benefits in a statement: "This scholarly approach to the study of religious education allows pupils to develop substantive knowledge of religion, religious and non-religious worldviews... It builds on research literature over many years into effective approaches to create one that is fit for purpose in the 21st century."

Fiona Moss, CEO of the National Association of Teachers of RE also praised the toolkit: "These curriculum resources build on the many examples of what good RE looks like and what many teachers are currently practising in classrooms across the country."

By providing teachers with these resources, this initiative promises to revitalise religious education in England, fostering deeper engagement with religion and belief systems among students.

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