Why does the DfE continue to neglect RE despite claiming it is essential?

Yet another example of where what Ofsted describes as “the lack of clarity and support from the government makes schools’ job harder” in relation to delivering high-quality RE. Minister of State for Education; Damian Hinds, MP (Pictured to the right) answered this written question from Jim Shannon MP as follows:

Jim Shannon MP Jim Shannon MP

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether her Department plans to take steps to fund network hubs for Religious Education; and if she will make a statement.

Damian Hinds MP, Minister of State for Education Damian Hinds MP, Minister of State for Education

“Religious education (RE) is an essential part of a school’s curriculum and remains a compulsory subject in all state-funded schools, including academies, to all pupils up to the age of 18. RE develops an individual’s knowledge and understanding of the religions and beliefs which form part of contemporary society, as well as serving to inform their own values and behaviour.

Although the Department has not been involved in the establishment of the RE Hubs project, the Department welcomes its work to support teachers and practitioners. The Department currently has no plans to provide funding for the project. The Department does, however, provide support for RE in other ways.”

The answer then goes on to cite spending on the new bursary which was finally reinstated this year but is still very small in comparison to other shortage subjects such as geography and languages including Latin, the Oak National Academy materials which will eventually be rolled out to all subjects and the eight-week funded subject knowledge enhancement courses for potential trainee teachers of RE – again offered to many other subjects.

Department for education consolidated annual report and account for the year ended 31 march 2022 Department for Education - Consolidated annual report and accounts for the year ended 31 March 2022

DfE’s annual report and accounts set out government policy:

“Our main levers to support schools are our Curriculum Hub programmes (music, computing, languages, English and mathematics), the Behaviour Hubs programme and our model curricula guidance … (page 72)

Music hubs will receive £79m a year until at least 2025 and there seems to be money available for other subject support too. For example, Schools Weekreportedon 1st December 2023 that the £320 million PE and sports premium for primary schools will be extended for at least another year from September.

So NATRE’s question is, if “Religious education (RE) is an essential part of a school’s curriculum and remains a compulsory subject in all state funded schools” and in relation to the RE Hubs project, “the Department welcomes its work to support teachers and practitioners”, why does the government not back up these fine words with action by funding the subject on a par with other subjects in the curriculum – including of course RE Hubs?

RE Hubs

RE Hubs

Note: The RE Hubs project, funded by Culham St Gabriel’s Trust is dedicated to supporting Religious Education (RE), Religion, Values and Ethics (RVE), and Religion & Worldviews (R&W) teachers and practitioners in the UK. Our mission is to connect those who can provide resources with those who need them. We aim to create a neutral platform that brings all stakeholders together, filling the knowledge gap and equipping everyone within the RE/RVE/R&W ecosystem.

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