A group of cross party MPs has joined forces to launch an inquiry into the supply of and support for teachers of Religious Education (RE) in all schools.

The inquiry will look at the way teachers are trained to teach the subject.  It is the first inquiry by the new All Party Parliamentary Group on Religious Education, chaired by Stephen Lloyd MP.  Lloyd is calling for evidence that will draw a clearer picture of the current support for the subject, with a view to ensuring all young people are taught a high standard of RE that provides them with an informed understanding of different religions, beliefs and cultures.

The call for evidence comes as significant changes have been proposed to the National Curriculum, yet there has been no formal review of RE despite the subject being statutory in schools. RE has also been excluded from the English Baccalaureate, along with arts and creative disciplines, and already state-maintained schools are reporting a decline in RE provision.  Parliamentary questions and research among schools, young people and teachers appear to show that the subject is being marginalised at the very time that high levels of religious literacy are becoming even more important in our interconnected modern world.

Stephen Lloyd MP said: “RE should be offered to all young people as a rigorous and academically challenging subject in all schools.  We know the provision and quality of the subject can vary, and some schools only make a token effort to fulfil their statutory obligation to teach it. This inquiry will look at provision for the subject through the eyes of those who teach it – as well as professional bodies and organisations committed to its future.”

The panel would like to hear from teachers with experiences of current RE in schools as well as from agencies, experts and faith and belief organisations who work in this area.

John Keast, chair of the Religious Education Council, said: “We want to see every young person in every school given access to good quality, well taught RE. We’re delighted to have had so much support for the APPG and such a good response from teachers and schools to its focus – this inquiry is set to capture the imagination of the RE world and will provide a strong basis for our future work.”

The deadline for receiving written information is 14th December.  Oral evidence sessions are being held at the House of Commons on 28th November and 16th January between 5pm and 7pm.  Please email Dr. Barbara Wintersgill (b.wintersgill@btinternet.com) for further information or visit www.religiouseducationcouncil.org.  A report will be published in early 2013.

Media enquiries:

Colin Hallmark / Harriet Johnson, 3:nine Communications

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1.     Established in 1973, the Religious Education Council of England and Wales (REC) brings together over 60 national organisations. These comprise academic and professional associations specialising in religions and religious education, as well as individual religion and belief organisations inclusive of the range of faith communities found nationally, including the British Humanist Association.  The REC’s shared priority is to strengthen the quality of provision for the subject throughout the educational system.  It provides the secretariat for the All Party Parliamentary Group on RE.

2.     The REC is a national organisation that represents a range of faiths and beliefs. Members include the Church of England, the Catholic Church, the Free Churches, the Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Jain, Zoroastrian and Bahá’í faiths, and the British Humanist Association and professional teaching associations.

3.     The All Party Parliamentary Group on Religious Education is chaired by Eastbourne and Willingdon MP Stephen Lloyd, with its secretariat provided by the Religious Education Council of England and Wales (REC).  Vice chairs are Fiona Bruce MP, Mary Glindon MP, Baroness Brinton and Mike Crockart MP.