I hope that you are not reading this but are taking advantage of the holiday season and doing something else, but for those many of you who keep on eye on things even on vacation, here is my first August blog post. There may be another after the examination results have been published.
Thinking of these, a letter from Mrs Elizabeth Truss to the Cornwall SACRE has confirmed what I had learned from officials in June that the reform of GCSE Religious Studies is now scheduled to allow for first teaching from September 2016. The process of reform has yet to be agreed, but Mrs Truss has said that the DfE will work with the RE Council and other relevant organisations on this. Meanwhile, the Ofqual consultation on GCSE reforms is still going on, and the RE Council will be responding to this by the closing date in October. One key issue is the place and nature of Short Course Religious Studies. Watch this space!
We have yet to see any further developments from the admission at Lambeth Palace on 3 July by Michael Gove that, in RE, “I don’t think I’ve done enough.” The “revitalising the conversations on RE” has not yet happened, but I can assure you that behind the scenes much work is going on at the RE Council, the RE APPG and others to ensure these conversations take place. My call for us to remain calm, considered and united was widely welcomed and I repeat it here. Again, because it is August, I have to say, Watch this space!
My latest letter from David Laws MP has confirmed that the bursaries for RE PGCE students will not be reinstated and that bursaries for other subjects may be removed, though there are no details about that. But the position over RE teacher training is still very serious. David Laws has agreed that the position needs to be monitored following his earlier admission that recruitment is “not healthy”. This is an issue that I have put on my mental agenda in any conversation with the Secretary of State as well.
Work on the RE subject review continues throughout August and into September. We hope to publish the result in October so that there is a parallel RE Curriculum Framework to the new National Curriculum Framework on which the DfE Consultation came to an end on 8 August. I hope to say more about the Review in September, but in the meantime, many thanks to all involved in this process for the very hard work they are putting in.
In the meantime, we will have the A/AS Level and GCSE RS results for 2013 soon. In advance, congratulations to all the students on their success and many thanks to their teachers. The results should indicate whether and to what extent RE has been impacted so far by the introduction of the EBacc. I hope to write a blog about them later on, so Watch this space!