January 2013 update

Under the present coalition government, an extensive review of the National Curriculum is taking place. There is a perception of need as well as entitlement for RE to be reviewed as well, in order to produce new RE documentation which clarifies the subject’s distinctive place in the wider school curriculum as well as giving guidance about suitable content. As part of its Strategic Plan, the Religious Education Council (REC) has undertaken to carry out such a review (‘The RE Subject Review’), a significant outcome of which will be proposals that help teachers to develop and sustain high quality RE alongside the rest of the curriculum.

In July 2012 the REC commissioned an Expert Panel for Phase One of the RE Subject Review comprising four members and with Dr Bill Gent as its chair. The Panel met twice and received submissions from over forty expert witnesses who brought to the process additional specialist professional knowledge of the four particular foci under consideration. The Phase One Expert Panel draft report was presented to the Steering Group for the project at the end of October 2012. After further revision it was presented to a specially constituted Reference Group for the project at an Extraordinary General Meeting of the REC on 7th November 2012. Following that meeting, a final draft was posted on line for wider consultation.

It was considered by the REC Board, the Executive Committee of the REC at a meeting in early December 2012 who recommended that it be adopted, subject to final amendments to be considered by the Steering Group at its meeting on Wednesday 16th  January 2013. This document, and the insights generated through the consultation process – including those that are constructively critical - will inform Phase 2 of the RE Review (February – July 2013).

Work in Phase Two of the RE Subject Review will be led by two Task Groups. Recruitment for the first of those groups has just been completed. Task Group One will develop non statutory guidance material on RE and its curriculum, with particular concern for its aims, its distinctive knowledge, understanding and skills and its assessment. Task Group Two will develop strategies designed to structure and sustain the future of RE. Following the recommendations identified by the Phase One report, this group will work to build influential links with different RE stakeholders to promote RE in schools as well as key external bodies, including the DfE and examination boards. In liaising with different stakeholders and policy makers, they will explore ways in which the collective efforts and wisdom of the whole RE community can be optimised for the benefit of the subject and young people studying it.

To see an overview of the Phase Two timeline, click here.