ACT - The Association of Christian Teachers

for Christians working in education

The week
News items from the week’s daily and education press, covering the major education news stories of the week.

The Sutton Trust report on how parents behave to get children into their chosen school.

In 2013 the Sutton Trust published Parent Power?a landmark piece of work authored by Prof Becky Francis and Prof Merryn Hutchings demonstrating how social class influences parents’ ability to support their children in their schooling. Five years later Parent Power 2018 revisits the cultural and financial resources parents use to boost their children’s chances of educational success.

 

 

 

  • When choosing what school to send their child to, parents with higher socioeconomic backgrounds were more likely to attend open days, read Ofsted reports, speak to parents at the school, read league tables and consult local authority or other education websites.
  • Parents in lower socioeconomic groups were more likely to indicate that the cost of travel, and potential extra financial costs such as uniforms, played a significant role in their decision making. Over half of working class parents (56%), compared to 34% of professional parents.
  • Just one in five parents (20%) reported that they were familiar with Progress 8, the Department for Education’s new headline measure for school league tables.
  • Parents in higher socioeconomic groups were much more likely to report a variety of strategies to gain access to their preferred school, such as moving to an area with good schools or to a specific catchment, along with employing private tutors for entrance tests.
  • Almost 1 in 3 (30%) of parents from higher socioeconomic backgrounds personally knew a parent who used ethically dubious strategies, such as buying or renting a second home in a catchment area, or using a relative’s address to gain access to a particular school.
  • Parents from higher socioeconomic backgrounds were five times more likely to report that their children had received private tuition. 31% of professional parents, compared to 6% of working class parents.
  • Two in five (39%) of school leaders say that extra financial contributions requested by their school have increased in the last two years. This is reflected in the views of parents, with half of parents (49%) say their school has asked them for an extra financial contribution in the last twelve months. Schools across the socioeconomic spectrum are facing substantial budgetary challenges, but those with more affluent parents are able to draw on those financial resources as a buffer, with higher class parents more likely to report they had been asked for contributions.
  • Young people from professional households were more likely to take part in extracurricular activities. This reflects cultural capital, but also financial resources in the home, as those in lower social groups were more likely to take part in activities that didn’t need to be paid for, 25% of working class parents, compared to 20% of professional parents.

 

Read the full report.


Northants County Council cuts on family support.

As Northamptonshire County Council makes £70m worth of spending cuts, how does it feel for a needy family to have support withdrawn?

"Mum!!!! Daniel's outside in his pants!" cries Alex at the crack of dawn.

"Is he out the front?" asks mum-of-four Torie Brooks, who had fallen back to sleep.

"No, he's in the back garden," says Alex.

"Well, that's all right then," she says, hauling herself out of bed yet again to attend to the younger of her two disabled sons.

    

Torie is accustomed to early morning wake-up calls of this sort at the family home in the Northamptonshire village of Woodford Halse.

Daniel and Alex both have a rare disorder called Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome, in which the body is unable to produce suitable amounts of cholesterol.

Read more.


International students and migration targets.

International students in the UK should not be removed from targets to reduce migration, recommends a report commissioned by the Home Office.

The Migration Advisory Committee, which gives the government independent advice on immigration, says there is no clear case to support such a change.

But the report calls for an easier move into work for overseas students.

Universities UK, which lobbied for students to be treated differently, said it was "disappointed"

The study, commissioned by the Home Office in August 2017, says there should continue to be no cap on international student numbers - and that they brought in extra money, skills and "soft power" to the UK.

    

"International students bring clear benefits to the whole of the UK," says committee chairman Professor Alan Manning.

Read more.


Religious Education Council Press Release on Commission for RE Final Report.

MEDIA RELEASE: Not for use before 12:01pm on 9th September

 

REC comment on the publication of the Commission on Religious Education’s Final Report

 

 

The Commission on Religious Education has today published its Final Report.  It sets out a vision for change for Religious Education (RE) in England and presents a national plan for RE consisting of 11 recommendations which it believes would help to secure the future of high-quality RE for all pupils in all schools if implemented.

 

The recommendations are built around a proposal for a National Entitlement setting out what it is that all pupils should be learning in RE.

 

The report is the result of two years of work by the Commission on Religious Education and follows on from the publication of their interim report Religious Education for All published in September 2017.  In compiling their final report, the commissioners drew on almost 700 detailed responses to a consultation on the interim report from across the range of stakeholders in religious education.  The interim report had itself drawn on over 2,000 responses to a call for evidence, the findings of five regional evidence gathering sessions, and a range of school visits and listening events.

 

The Commission on Religious Education was established in 2016 by the RE Council.  It was given a remit to review the education, policy, and legal frameworks for RE in England and to make recommendations to ensure the highest quality provision of RE.  The Commission is editorially independent of the RE Council: the Commission, and not the RE Council, is entirely responsible for the report and recommendations.

 

 

Comment from Rudolf Eliott Lockhart, Chief Executive of the Religious Education Council:

 

This report’s recommendations give us a chance to secure the future of religious education.  This chance can’t come soon enough following last month’s dramatic drops in exam entries for Religious Studies of over 20% at A-level and over 10% at GCSE.  If we don’t grasp this opportunity we risk the subject dying in many schools.  If we let that happen we would be failing our young people and putting society in danger of greater misunderstanding and mistrust between people with different religious and non-religious identities.  The Commission on Religious Education has produced an ambitious vision for the future of Religious Education in England that could mark the most significant developments in the subject in over 40 years.  The report gives a compelling explanation of why it is essential for all pupils in all schools to have a rigorous and academic education about a range of religious and non-religious worldviews.  The proposal for a National Entitlement for all pupils alongside the freedom for different groups to develop their own programmes of study provides an approach that respects the autonomy of schools over the character of their religious education while ensuring that no pupils miss out on core elements of essential study about religion and belief.  I look forward to discussing the report with members of the RE Council.  I hope that the Government will work closely with the RE Council to determine how best to build on the recommendations so that we can ensure all pupils have the high-quality education about religion and worldviews that is necessary to prepare them for life in modern Britain.

 

 

-ends-


Humanist response to the Commission on RE Final Report.

In its final report, published today, the Commission on Religious Education has recommended that the subject of Religious Education in England be renamed to Religion and Worldviews, and be reformed to ensure full inclusion of humanism. The Commission also recommends that a national entitlement (the text of which is included in the report) to the subject be introduced in place of existing legal requirements. Humanists UK has welcomed both recommendations, which are strongly in line with its own position of many decades’ standing.

The report recommends:

  • ‘The name of the subject should be changed to Religion and Worldviews’.
  • ‘The National Entitlement to the study of Religion and Worldviews should become statutory for all publicly funded schools’ – which, for maintained schools, should ‘replace the requirement… to follow their locally agreed syllabus.’ Agreed Syllabus Conferences will no longer be required.
  • For faith schools, ‘a requirement should be introduced to provide Religion and Worldviews in accordance with the National Entitlement; in addition to any faith-based education.
  • The National Entitlement states ‘Programmes of study must reflect the complex, diverse and plural nature of worldviews. They may draw from… non-religious worldviews and concepts including Humanism…’ The National Entitlement should be supported by ‘Non-statutory programmes of study for each of Key Stages 1–4… developed at a national level, at a similar level of detail as those for History and Geography in the National Curriculum.’
  • Standing Advisory Councils on RE should be replaced by Local Advisory Networks for Religion and Worldviews, with the composition of the groups within it changed to, amongst other things, make clear humanists should be included, and remove the privileged place for the CofE.

Humanists UK Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented, ‘These recommendations are a once in a generation opportunity to save the academically serious teaching of religious and non-religious worldviews in our schools. If the nettle is not grasped, decline will continue and the subject will sink into irrelevance at a time when the need for knowledge and understanding in this field is more acute than ever. We need the new national entitlement for all children that this report recommends, we need the inclusion of the full breadth of religions and humanism that it endorses, and we need to proceed with the urgency that it calls for.’

Commenting specifically on the recommendation that humanism be included in the national entitlement, Mr Copson added, ‘Aside from the academic importance of this breadth, it is the case that over a quarter of the population have humanist beliefs and values and more people self-identify as non-religious and humanist than Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, or any of the non-Christian religions. It is vital that young people – over 75% of whom are not religious – learn about an approach to life which may assist their personal development. It is also vital that pupils with religious beliefs learn about the beliefs and values of their non-religious fellow citizens, and vice versa. We look forward to a new national settlement that will realise these necessities.’

Alongside its general welcome, Humanists UK has sounded one note of caution for the implementation of the Commission’s recommendations, calling for greater conceptual clarity about the way ‘non-religious worldviews’ are treated. Mr Copson continued, ‘The identification of atheism, agnosticism, and secularism as non-religious worldviews is disappointing conceptual confusion that we would have hoped the Commission would avoid. All three should of course be studied in the subject in detail, but they are not worldviews. Atheism and agnosticism are simple positions on the existence or otherwise of gods, and they are no more non-religious worldviews than theism is a religion. Secularism is (depending on the academic field) either a political philosophy that can be held by religious and non-religious alike or a sociological description of a certain social approach associated with modernity. EIther way, it is not a non-religious worldview in that way that humanism or nihilism are.’


National Secular Society response to Commission on RE Final Report.

Replace RE with ‘religion and worldviews’, says commission

Posted: Sun, 09 Sep 2018

Replace RE with ‘religion and worldviews’, says commission

The National Secular Society has given a "qualified welcome" to a commission's recommendations to replace RE with a subject entitled 'Religion and Worldviews' and introduce a national entitlement to it.

In its report on the future of RE teaching the Commission on Religious Education (CoRE) has said all publicly-funded schools should be required to teach the national entitlement. All pupils should be entitled to study it until the age of 16 (year 11) and post-16 students should have the opportunity to do so.

But the report recommended allowing Section 48 inspections, where religious bodies rather than Ofsted inspect the way RE is taught in faith schools, to continue. The NSS has said this recommendation gives too much leeway to religious interests.

The report said schools' programmes of study must "reflect the complex, diverse and plural nature of worldviews" and may "draw from a range of religious, philosophical, spiritual and other approaches to life". The report says if pupils encounter only religious and not non-religious worldviews, or smaller, local, indigenous or newer religions, their understanding of the subject is "impoverished".

It called for a review of the requirement for local authorities to draw up agreed syllabuses on religious education, a measure the NSS has long advocated.

But it recommended changing, rather than abolishing, the local authority bodies charged with drawing up the RE curriculum. The bodies, currently known as Standing Advisory Councils on Religious Education (SACREs), would become 'Local Advisory Networks for Religion and Worldviews'. The NSS has called for the abolition of SACREs.

The report said the Department for Education should provide legal clarification on whether the change in the subject's name would affect parents' right to withdraw their children from the subject.

It added that schools would be expected to publish a detailed statement about how they meet the national entitlement.

NSS chief executive Stephen Evans said the recommendations deserved "a qualified welcome".

"The introduction of a national entitlement to teaching about religion and worldviews is a positive step. If enacted these proposals would represent significant progress although the deference to religious interests has limited the commission's ambitions, making it an inevitable fudge.

"But if the government is prepared to listen then this report is a potential game changer for the way we teach about religion in schools. All children should have an education that enables them to develop their own independent and informed beliefs. Whilst the proposed national entitlement is welcome, a more fundamental review of religion's role in education is necessary to make this a reality and to challenge confessional teaching and undue religious influence in our state-funded schools."

On the recommended name of the new subject, Mr Evans said: "The inclusion of the word 'religion' appears to be a sop to religious interests – which could undermine efforts to reinvigorate and improve the reputation of this contentious are of the curriculum. Calling a subject 'Religion and Worldviews' is a bit like calling PE 'Football and Sport'. Religion would fit in to a study of worldviews but should not get special attention."

The NSS submitted evidence to the commission ahead of both its interim report, which recommended "strategic, urgent intervention" last year, and the final one published today.

The society called for legislative change to enshrine a national entitlement giving every pupil the right to high quality, non-partisan education about religion and belief. It argued that schools should teach about a diverse range of religious and non-religious worldviews.

It said pupils should study how people's worldviews may influence their thinking on philosophical, moral and cultural issues and how the freedom to manifest religion and belief interacts with the rights of others.

And it called for a separation between any form of confessionalism or religious instruction and education about RE, arguing that the promotion of religion should only take place in a voluntary or non-state funded environment.

The NSS has set out its vision for high-quality, non-partisan education through its 21st Century RE For All campaign.

In April the NSS hosted a conference on the future of teaching about religion and belief, where panellists from educational backgrounds argued for reform. The keynote speaker, philosopher AC Grayling, called for teaching to look broadly at "the history of ideas", including topics such as classical mythology and different types of thought.

A survey published this week revealed that religious education is was one the subjects least enjoyed by pupils.


Church of England Response to RE Commission Report Final Report.

Response to Religious Education Commission

 

09/09/2018

                  Responding to the publication of the Commission on Religious Education's Final Report, The Church of England’s Chief Education Officer, Nigel Genders, said:        

“This report calls for a new vision for Religious Education (RE) which is vital if we are to equip children for life in the modern world where religion and belief play such important roles. It is also timely given the falling numbers of students taking RE at GCSE and A level following the introduction of the English Baccalaureate (Ebacc).

“The report articulates well the need to recruit and train RE teachers who are resourced and supported effectively. It also makes significant recommendations for structural change in the way RE is determined. Today, most people’s experience of religion and belief is national and global, so we support the move away from a local determination of the subject. We believe this will help pupils make sense of religion and belief as it is lived today and this proposed change is educationally valid and would bring RE into line with all other curriculum subjects.

“We fully support the policy of developing a Statement of Entitlement to RE and are pleased to see the Commission endorsing an approach which we already use in Church of England schools. However, the Commission’s proposed Statement of Entitlement requires further work if it is to ensure that children and young people develop religious and theological literacy as part of their knowledge and understanding. We look forward to playing our part in working with the education community to achieve this and building an irresistible consensus of agreement about the subject.


ACT Press Release on Final Report of Commission on RE.

Commission on Religious Education Final Report Religion and Worldviews: The way forward. A national plan for RE.

 

 

Today the long awaited final report was published with eleven recommendations many of which are to be welcomed.

 

I agree with the report that RE is in crisis in our schools and in many schools particularly at Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 not being taught.

 

I believe the report is a missed opportunity because it has a main focus on changing the nature and character of Religious Education by introducing Worldviews which would inevitably dilute the religious content. (There is a place in schools for teaching about and understanding Worldviews but not in Religious Education). All pupils need through sound RE teaching a good understanding of the major World Religions of Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism. If this is done well it will build on community cohesion. At the moment because of the introduction of Academies and Free Schools there is no co-ordinated approach of entitlement to RE from age 4 – 18, so pupils land up repeating some aspects and missing out together on others. This means pupils do not gain a thorough understanding of all the major religions. The allocation of time for RE in the busy, crowded curriculum is limited, to introduce Worldviews would be counter- productive and further weaken RE.

 

I do agree as the report recommends:

 

  • A National Entitlement for RE
  • Improved coverage of RE in Initial Teacher Training
  • Improved ongoing training for teachers in schools
  • Non – statutory programmes of study for RE drawn up
  • Ofsted to comment on whether schools are meeting their statutory requirements for RE
  • Government to look again at guidelines for right of withdrawal from RE

 

Clive Ireson

Director

Association of Christian Teachers


Commission on RE - Final Report - Executive Summary.

Executive Summary.

RELIGION AND
WORLDVIEWS:
THE WAY FORWARD
A national plan for RE

 

Read the Executive Summary.


Commission on RE Final Report.

RELIGION AND
WORLDVIEWS:
THE WAY FORWARD
A national plan for RE

 

Read the full report.


 

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