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Westminster debate about re + part of fiona bruce mp's speech
Westminster debate about re + part of fiona bruce mp's speech
Westminster debate about re + part of fiona bruce mp's speech
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Westminster debate about re + part of fiona bruce mp's speech

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  • 1. This is a transcript from the debate about Religious Education andthe English Baccalaureate in Westminster on 17th May 2011-05-28, focussing on the speech by MP Fiona Bruce. In January 2011, the coalition government introduced the English Baccalaureate curriculum to secondary schools in England. GCSE Religious Education was deliberately excluded from this new Gold standard programme despite its popularity, academic rigour and ability to teach young people about a range of faiths and beliefs. We need your support to ensure GCSE RE is included in this crucial new curriculum and ultimately, put back in its rightful place - at the heart of humanities Unintended consequences – NATRE one in three schools is significantly reducing resources and the number of teachers dedicated to teaching RE in the coming year– fewer pupils are able to study RE GCSE The status of the E Bacc means that fewer pupils are already opting to study RE So many people are calling for the reversal of this. These include over 100 mps have signed an Early Days Motion calling for this, doubtless prompted in a large part by constituents letters and representations from local schools - Public petition signed by over 115,000 members of the public, by REACT campaign to put Religious Education at the heart of Humanities. Signed by members of the public and uniting religious leaders from many different faiths including Christians, Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs. Quite different from the RI religious instruction or scripture which those of us of a certain age may have studied, often learning passages of the Bible by rote… Today’s RE has moved on. It is not about promoting one religion it is about understanding many, and indeed about understanding many other aspects of life from a safe perspective. GCSE RE includes such topics as environmental issues, discrimination, law and punishment, an understanding of the cultural and religious values of different peoples and faiths One sixth former who recently studied GCSE RE, along with 9 other GCSE subjects, told me, ‘It was the only subject in which I got to discuss current affairs and responses to them.’ Religious issues are frequently at the top of any news agenda. And today’s RE helps young people make sense of this and of wider world affairs. As well as promoting community cohesion allowing as it does, young people growing up in a diverse society to discuss and understand the views and opinions of people whose beliefs and values differ from their own in the safety of the classroom environment. An RE student told me - ‘Many societies and cultures have strong religious foundations and understanding their methodology and thought was very helpful, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Enjoyment is key to learning well. We all learn better when we enjoy it and GCSE RE is popular. In the last 15 years the number of students taking GCSE RE has quadrupled. From 113,000 to about 460,000 The Archbishop of Westminster has said that, ‘In an increasingly confusing world, Religious Studies gives young people perhaps their only opportunity to engage
  • 2. seriously not only with the most profound philosophical questions concerning humanexistence and the nature of reality but also with the most concerning fundamentalethical dilemmas of our day. How else will our young people attain this?I quote from a teacher in Cheshire of 30 years, deputy head responsible for SMSC(spiritual, moral, social and cultural value) policies in the school. – On the day after9/11 a 12 year old Muslim girl ran to me in tears saying that she had been taunted,chased and threatened on her way to school. Other pupils and youngsters, manyolder than her, were accusing her of being responsible for the destruction of the TwinTowers and multiple murders.She was identifiable because of the colour of her skin and she wore a scarf. Up untilthat day there was no evidence of any problem. She had received interest andquestioning but never experience hatred. Overnight the media coverage and need tofind someone to blame, meant that she became a target. She was the only Muslimchild in a mostly white school. There had to be an immediate response to identify themain bullies, but for many weeks, through RE there was specific teaching aboutIslam and Islamaphobia. The outcome was positive. With the pupil being acceptedand becoming a senior prefect who was respected and valued by others.Cultural diversity is explored through the teaching of RE. Pupils are able to sharetheir beliefs arrange church visits, demonstrate perhaps how a turban is worn, howothers pray, bringing home made food for festivals and share the meaning of specificrituals… As well as promoting Community Cohesion and giving pupils insights intotheir own and other cultures and heritage, RE also supports pupils in articulatingmoral judgements and to deal with misfortune, death, loss, issues in theirneighbourhood, the workplace and to prepare them for adult life.One teacher told me - ‘Good RE teaching can promote positive values for youngpeople and society. ‘She sites the example of James Delaney a twelve year old boymurdered at Elsmere Port in Cheshire. He was from a Traveller family. She speaksfrom a close perspective with experience of teaching in his area….‘When they move into an area, often their children in school may be exposed tobullying in response to what they may here their parents or other adults saying...Getting children to empathise and step into the shoes of a family whose 12 year oldson was murdered because he was a traveller proved to be a helpful and powerfulway of challenging perceptions and wrongly held views...’RE lessons also help to develop transferable skills, critical analysis, essay structure,and general written and verbal skills as students learn and equally important torespect others…….questioning reasoning empathy insight It focussed my thinking in areas of abstract thought. Itimproved and developed my analytical skills and logical reasoning. quite powerful points inEach essay was commented upon according to the qualities of K,U and E, - KnowledgeUnderstanding and Evaluation.Research among 1000 18-24 year olds 83%What would be the negative results of excluding RE from EBacc. Currently most state secondaryschools Schools arrange their subjects in a Humanities Block. will no longer want to pay for examfees for something to be It will be relegated,. Whilst Re And in pupils, parents and many teacherseyes it will become a cinderella subject, merged with pshe and citizenship, taught by non-specialists. And where these subjects are merged scaling back will affect the RE advisors, withoutthis guidance young people will find it more difficult to cope or maintain secure values which willmake it Influence of more extreme
  • 3. Early Day Motion on RE[02.02.11]Stephen Lloyd, MP for Eastbourne and Willingdon, has tabled an Early Day Motion asking forthe inclusion of Religious Studies in the EBac. The wording is as follows:That this House notes the recent publication of league tables of school performancemeasuring the proportion of pupils obtaining the English Baccalaureate; further notes that theEnglish Baccalaureate is awarded to pupils who gain GCSEs at Grade C or above in English,mathematics, science, a foreign language and a humanities subject; further notes withconcern that this list of approved subjects does not include religious education; recognisesthat religious education is an academically rigorous subject with increasing popularity amongpupils; further recognises that the rise of religious extremism around the world and in the UKmeans that a good understanding of all religions is vital to a well-rounded education; furthernotes that with the increasing emphasis on the English Baccalaureate as the primaryqualification for 16-year-olds schools are more likely to focus on the core subjects whichmake it up; and therefore calls on the Government to recognise the importance and relevanceof religious education by including it as a core subject in the English Baccalaureate.http://edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi/EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=42400&SESSION=905RE debate in Parliament - search results (April and May 2011)Tue 24 May 2.30pm to Wed 25 May 12.14am House of Lords view linksTue 24 May 11.30am to 7.22pm House of CommonsTue 24 May 10.15am to 11.32am HoL HIV and AIDS in the United Kingdom CommitteeTue 24 May 10am to 11.31am HoC Business, Innovation and Skills CommitteeMon 23 May 2.30pm to 10.43pm House of CommonsThu 19 May 11am to 5.40pm House of Lords view linksWed 18 May 3pm to 10.09pm House of Lords view linksWed 18 May 9.30am to 10.50am HoC Education CommitteeTue 17 May 2.30pm to 10.42pm House of LordsTue 17 May 10.30am to 12.43pm HoC Business, Innovation and Skills CommitteeTue 17 May - 10am to 11.59am HoC Education CommitteeTue 17 May - 9.30am to 2pm Westminster Hall

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