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Parliamentary group highlights importance of RE

18/03/2014 Kelly
Studying Religious Education at school can help youngsters become "informed, active citizens" and could prevent the rise of religious extremism.

This is the conclusion of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Religious Education which has conducted an appraisal of the subject. However, the group also warned that some government policies are lowering the status of RE, the BBC reports.

Studying RE encourages youngsters to engage with religious and ethical issues from alternative points of view, the APPG says. It enables them to address contentious issues and study why misconceptions arise about some groups.

As a result, the potential for conflict in multi-faith areas is significantly reduced.

Chairman of the group Stephen Lloyd MP said RE teaching is "more important than ever before". The subject has the potential to combat prejudice and explode the myths that permeate the popular media and the national psyche, he added.

"There are a large number of excellent RE teachers in schools and colleges nationwide who are doing an outstanding job in linking RE back to their communities," Mr Lloyd commented.

"This prepares children for the challenges and opportunities of multicultural life, and helps them live harmoniously with others."

Concerns were raised, however, about the number of teaching assistants being given responsibility for the subject in primary schools and points out that around half of those in such teaching jobs lack confidence in teaching RE.

In a report published last year the APPG said "a range of government policies" - including the introduction of the EBacc and the removal of the RS GCSE Short Courses from the league tables - are "contributing to the lowering of the status of RE in some schools, leading to a reduction in the demand for specialist teachers".

A Department for Education representative pointed out that the subject remains a compulsory part of the national curriculum and said a specialist group is being established to ensure teachers have the necessary support to deliver high-quality lessons. 

It will also continue to work with organisations such as the Religious Education Council to highlight examples of best practice.

General secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) Mary Bousted welcomed the report and said RE plays a vital role in helping children become "engaged citizens".

Posted by Harriet McGowanADNFCR-2164-ID-801704125-ADNFCR
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