Mixed feelings about religious education in Northumberland

Concerns have been raised over the teaching of religious education in Northumberland.

Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 12:11 pm
Representatives met to discuss the issue.

There were mixed feelings as Northumberland County Council’s Agreed Syllabus Conference met to disucss , among other things, the current religious education programming.

The conference is a stautory body which brought together in order to produce an agreed syllabus for religious education, and this was its second meeting.

RE teacher Chris Hudson , representing the Church of England, told the conference: “I was struck by reading through it (the 2016 RE syllabus) again how much it doesn’t promote postiive diologue between those of different faiths and beliefs.

“We should be encouraging children and young people to talk about and discuss their beliefs with each other, and that actually it is not there in the syllabus.”

Mr Hudson further critiqued the the christianity content of RE in Northumberland’s syllabus, claiming it was “underwhelming” and that there were several “key christian ideas that werent in there”.

Converesly, Stuart Dearlove, representing Humanists UK said: “I was genuinely impressed at the frequency with which world views are mentioned, particulalry, for example, humanism.”

The conference was told that a questionnaire will soon be given to RE teachers in the region to obtain feedback about the current syllabus.

Mr Dearlove suggested a question should be added on how schools made RE enjoyable for students.

The Humanist UK representative commented that RE is reportedly one of the least-enjoyed subjects among school children.

In 2018 YouGov published a poll claiming “only 12%” of “4,000 surveyed pupils spread across the 6–15 age range were prepared to admit to enjoying RE a lot, only Citizenship polled lower than RE on this measure”.

Joyce Miller, representing Buddhism, noted that success in religious education required “specialist teachers.” She said: “More RE is taught by non-specialist teachers than any other subject… four times as many as history.”

The Agreed syllabus conference will reconvene on Monday 19th of April at 4pm.

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