Cross-party calls for RE National Plan after Westminster debate
Shadow Education Minister Stephen Morgan says a Labour government will deliver a ‘well-rounded’ education and challenged the Government for its failure to introduce a National Plan for RE.
London, 01 November 2022: A Westminster Hall debate has heard cross-party calls of support for religious education, as MPs urged the Government to do more to protect the subject they considered vital for young people in modern Britain.
The debate, entitled ‘Religious Education in Modern Britain’, was called by Conservative MP Martin Vickers who cited concerns about the number of schools fulfilling their statutory responsibility to teach the subject. At year 11, one school in five reported offering zero hours of RE.
During the hour and a half debate, members across the House spoke on the subject’s importance for fostering mutual understanding in society, as well as the world beyond Britain where 70% have a religious affiliation.
Supportive Labour MP Luke Pollard spoke in support of the National Association of Teachers of RE and commended the subject’s ability to prepare students to be critical and curious about ideas in the world. He then went on to urge all parties to make a manifesto commitment to increase the provision for the subject in every school.
Shadow Minister for Schools, Stephen Morgan expressed concerns over specialist RE teacher recruitment, citing a National Foundation for Educational Research report that recruitment was 20% below its target for 2022. He questioned Government support for the subject, and called for the implementation of a National Plan for RE.
Among those from the Conservative benches who spoke up strongly for the subject were the PM’s Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Fiona Bruce MP, as well as former RE teacher, Jonathan Gullis MP.
Closing the debate, Martin Vickers said the debate had expressed a ‘considerable concern’ over the teaching of RE in modern Britain, and requested the Department for Education be ‘more robust’ in ensuring schools were following their statutory requirement for RE. He had previously invited the Minister to meet with him and the Religious Education Policy Unit, particularly with regards to reinstating the teacher training bursary for RE.
Link to Full Debate: https://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/c381c207-fd84-48a1-9794-730abf8876fe