1. A national entitlement for RE. This would set out clearly the aims and purpose(s) of RE and what pupils should experience in the course of their study of the subject. This national entitlement should be for all pupils at all state-funded schools and we seek to consult with independent schools about whether they should adopt it. We are advocating RE for all not because children belong to religious traditions or not, but because in our age a nuanced understanding of the role of worldviews must be a part of citizens’ intellectual make-up. it is to do with their ability to function effectively as citizens and as human beings. This is as important an aspect of education for pupils in schools of a religious character as it is in those without a religious character. It should be introduced through non statutory guidance as early as possible with a view to it ultimately becoming statutory, either to supplement or replace the current legislation on agreed syllabuses. This national entitlement provides a reinvigorated vision for RE for all pupils in the future, drawing on the very best of the RE that we know happens in some schools. it seeks to be a basic statement of what all pupils are entitled to, but is not a national syllabus or curriculum. We hope that the flexibility of the proposed national entitlement will ensure that a diversity of high quality approaches will emerge and that this will best suit the landscape of a school-led system. We recognise that schools will need guidance and support to translate this entitlement into curriculum planning and we are reviewing where this guidance and support should come from.
2. Holding schools to account for the provision and quality of RE. The evidence presented to us indicates that at present too many schools are not being held to account for failing to provide adequate RE. Schools should be required to publish details on their website of how they meet the national entitlement for RE. Inspection frameworks should be revised to ensure that inspectors monitor whether schools meet the national entitlement for RE. The Commission has also given thought to how schools should provide for those key Stage 4 pupils who are not taking the GCSE in Religious Studies and would like to consult on the possibility of a revised qualification for these pupils to ensure that their work can be accredited.
3. A national plan to improve teaching and learning in RE. The Commission would like to develop a national plan for developing teaching and learning in RE, along the lines of the national plan for music education. The national plan will bring together the Commission’s recommendations for improving teacher subject knowledge and confidence and we seek to consult on how this can best be achieved.
4. A renewed and expanded role for standing advisory councils on religious education (sacres). The evidence we have received suggests that SACres can have an important role in promoting and supporting RE and in promoting good community relations more broadly, but that their capacity to deliver this role fully has been diminishing in many local authorities. The Commission’s suggested recommendations, which are consultative at this stage, call for consideration to be given to adding the promotion of improved community relations to the remit of SACres and make proposals for the securing of resources for their work. There are also recommendations that seek consideration of the composition of SACres with a call to ensure that they are fully representative, with representatives of non-religious worldviews as full members.
The full recommendations are set out on pages 8 to 12.
Read the full interim report.