Response to Religious Education Guidance in English Schools – Non-Statutory Guidance 2010

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We welcome the publication of this Non-Statutory Guidance on Religious Education (RE) as a clear statement of the importance of RE as a subject in its own right as well as a statutory requirement in the school curriculum for all pupils.

Whilst it must be remembered that much of the Guidance does not apply to our Catholic schools because they are Voluntary Aided (VA), we share the interest in and commitment to ensuring that good RE is taught well in all types of school. We recognise that there are many Catholic pupils in Community and other schools beyond the VA sector. We want these and all pupils to have a good experience of RE and to enjoy the personal development and other benefits afforded by high quality work in this subject.

Too often it seems that curriculum discussions dwell on a narrow range of subjects to the exclusion of RE. The reality is that RE is vital with much knowledge and intrinsic value to offer young people. Through RE they learn not only about religion and belief and to probe the bigger questions of life, but also about the importance of faith in the lives of others. It helps to promote community cohesion and fosters the development of many skills as pupils both learn about and from religion, applying what they have learnt.

This new Non-Statutory Guidance alerts us to legal requirements as well as to rights and responsibilities. It depicts the role of SACREs well, reminding local authorities of their resourcing obligation. It also offers advice on good practice.

Whilst rightly Non-Statutory, the Guidance will be helpful to headteachers, teachers, governors, local authorities, SACREs and others who have a role in planning and teaching Religious Education or with overarching curriculum responsibilities. We have been pleased to participate in the preparation of the Guidance, offering comment and evaluation as appropriate.

Online version of the Guidance:

http://www.teachernet.gov.uk/teachingandlearning/subjects/re/guidance/

Oona Stannard
Chief Executive & Director Catholic Education Service for England and Wales

29 January 2010