DfE response to Commission on RE report – NATRE’s view

The Secretary of State for Education recently replied to the Commission on RE report. The letter can be seen here, along with the RE Council response. NATRE’s response is below.

NATRE was disappointed to see the first formal response from the Secretary of State for Education to the Commission on RE’s report missed a chance to make a lasting impact on the quality of education provided in our schools.

As the Secretary of State is aware, in too many schools, the provision for and quality of RE is severely lacking. The number of entries for GCSE continues to fall as an overall figure and after many years of increase, the number of A level entries fell significantly in 2018. The Secretary of State will also be aware of the evidence suggesting at least 40% of secondary schools make no provision for RE at KS4. These stark figures need to be placed alongside the Secretary of State’s comment that, ‘It is mandatory for all state funded schools to teach RE and it is important that they do this well.’

NATRE agrees with the Secretary of State about the importance of high quality RE, and we welcome the moves made by government to raise the level of training bursary and to fund a 200 hour Subject Knowledge Enhancement course. NATRE also commends the Secretary of State for his position on reducing teacher workload, however, we are disappointed that this is used as a reason for a lack of ambition in the response.

The Secretary of State also refers to guidance for head teachers on withdrawal, produced by NATRE and NAHT (National Association of Head Teachers). However, this guidance addresses the current situation and the Commissioners clearly called for the DfE to review the right of withdrawal and issue legal guidance on its use.

While the Secretary of State’s response is unhelpful and unnecessarily timid, NATRE will continue to positively engage with ministers and others in the DfE on the recommendations of the Commission, seeking to ensure that young people in all of our schools are given the standard of education they both deserve and are entitled to.