Commission on Religious Education

The Commission on Religious Education has published its final report.

The Final Report of the Commission on Religious Education, Religion and Worldviews: the way forward.  A national plan for RE, has been published. It sets out a National Plan for RE comprising of 11 recommendations, and calls on the Government to consider and adopt it.

The National Plan is built around a National Entitlement which sets out what all pupils up to the end of Year 11, in all publicly funded schools, should be entitled to be taught.  The National Entitlement reflects a new and inclusive vision for the subject, fully embracing the diversity and richness of religious and non-religious worldviews.  It will ensure a strong academic basis for the subject in all schools.  The National Plan provides for flexibility of approach in the translation of the National Entitlement into programmes of study in schools, ensuring that Headteachers are able to choose the approach that is most appropriate for their pupils.

There is a long and detailed Press Release which gives all the background information.  There is both the Full Report and an Executive Summary.

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.

Other media reports include:

Exams are ruining teenagers’ lives

Exam pupils 1

Emma Jacobs is studying for her A-levels. She is an aspiring journalist and occasional slam poet. She blogs here and tweets @ESophieJ.  Yesterday she wrote a fantastic article on how exams are ruining teenagers’ lives:

Spring is the start of a period of intense pressure for 16-year-olds taking GCSEs. Schools push their more academic pupils in order to score well in league tables. At my comprehensive school, many peers took more than 10 GCSE subjects in one summer. Some had been encouraged to take exams a year early and were then enrolled on AS-levels alongside the GCSEs.

The school day, with travel, can easily stretch from 7.30am until 5pm, and then extra work starts as soon as you get home. A 14-hour day is not unusual in the run-up to exams. There is little or no time for exercise or fresh air. Levels of stress, clinical depression and anxiety are high, and up to one fifth of my contemporaries are said to be self-harming. Eating disorders remain a distressing problem and increasingly sufferers include young men. Some schools recognise the high levels of anxiety by having strategies like “time out” for those who cannot get through an exam without a panic attack, but I see little evidence of strategies being put in place to mitigate the stress before it becomes clinically debilitating.

Not only do exams put a strain on young people’s mental health, their physical health also suffers. For A-level students all-nighters are standard and many then survive a full day of school on caffeine alone. Within my friendship group, on any given night one person is awake texting about how they’re up during the early hours finishing an essay or cramming for a test. Arguably the texting and distractions we have on our phones are part of the problem, but they are part of our world and it’s not as easy as adults think to just turn them off (I notice that adults who advise turning off extraneous screens are often rather wedded to their own devices).

After over ten years of full-time youth work I have never seen young people (and their teachers) under more pressure than they currently are.  Not only does it have a profound impact on physical and mental health it also places a challenge at the door of the church as it seeks to disciple young people.

Is more coursework the solution to this problem or does this not merely keep the high levels of pressure going for a longer period of time causing even more of a problem?

Any ideas?