30 years after the introduction of a national curricular entitlement for all pupils, the religious education syllabus is still decided locally by committees of faith representatives, or worse, by religious bodies responsible for running faith schools. In many cases RE retains aspects of confessionalism and is often inspected by faith groups.
There are some great examples of best practice and many in the RE community are calling for reform, but barriers remain. This one day conference will explore the future of religion and belief education in schools, and how we can create a truly balanced and non-partisan approach.
The event will be of interest to RE teachers, educationalists, school leaders, secularists and anyone with an interest in improving education about religion and belief in schools.
10.30-11.50 Panel: What does '21st Century RE for all' mean?
Speakers: Alan Brine, Kate Christopher, Keith Sharpe and Martha Shaw.
12.00-13.00 Issue roundtable 1
13.30-14.00 Professor AC Grayling: Learning about worldviews, a philosophical perspective
14.10-15.10 Issue roundtable 2
Alan Brine, HMI in Ofsted from 2001 to 2014 where he was national Adviser for Religious Education from 2007 to 2014. He is author of many key publications on religion and belief education, including the most recent report from Ofsted, Religious Education: Realising the Potential (2013). Previously he was a teacher of RE in schools and Higher Education, and County Inspector for RE in Hampshire. He is currently sits on the National Commission on RE. He is a member of Humanists UK and is the Humanist Chaplain at Manchester Prison.
Kate Christopher taught RE in Secondary schools for 11 years and is currently a national RE adviser, developing curriculum materials and supporting teachers in improving and developing their RE. Kate is in the final stages of earning a PhD in Philosophy of Education, testing claims made about RE, particularly its capacity to promote community cohesion. Her research has led her to propose a critical approach to understanding religion and belief, taking on the insights of critical multiculturalist and anti-racist stances as well as other critical views, in order to offer a religious education of value in the 21st Century.
Prof. A. C. Grayling
A. C. Grayling CBE MA DPhil (Oxon) FRSA FRSL is the Master of the New College of the Humanities, London, and its Professor of Philosophy. He is also a Supernumerary Fellow of St Anne's College, Oxford. He is the author of over thirty books of philosophy, biography, history of ideas, and essays. He was for a number of years a columnist on the Guardian, the Times, and Prospect magazine. He has contributed to many leading newspapers in the UK, US and Australia, and to BBC radios 4, 3 and the World Service, for which he did the annual 'Exchanges at the Frontier' series; and he has often appeared on television. He has twice been a judge on the Booker Prize, in 2014 serving as the Chair of the judging panel. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a Vice President of the British Humanist Association, Patron of the UK Armed Forces Humanist Association, Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society, and a Patron of Dignity in Dying.
Keith Sharpe has been a teacher, teacher trainer and professor of education at the University of Liverpool and De Montfort University. His research interests include comparative education with a particular focus on France. He believes that the French commitment to laïcïté provides a model of secular schooling from which British policy makers could usefully learn. Dr Sharpe chairs the Secular Education Forum of the NSS.
Martha Shaw is a Senior Lecturer in Education, with a particular specialism in the sociology of education, and religion and belief in education. Appointed in 2016, Martha previously held a research role at Goldsmiths, University of London, within the Faiths and Civil Society Unit. As such, she specialises in research on religion and belief in the public sphere. She written on the role and purpose of Religious Education and is completing a PhD in beliefs and values in education and the VID Specialized University, Oslo. Martha is a qualified teacher and, prior to her research career, headed a sociology department in a London secondary school.