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'Give us more time for religion'

Teachers push for new-style RE to win extra lessons. Nicola Porter reports

More time should be devoted to teaching a new-look religious education syllabus for key stage 3 pupils at Church in Wales schools, teachers have said.

Only 5 per cent of the timetable is currently allocated to RE in Anglican secondary schools, with younger pupils given only one lesson per week. But moves to broaden the curriculum over the past few years have led to calls for more timetable space for the subject .

The new RE framework for KS3 pupils at Wales's Anglican schools was officially launched last week. Sue King, head of religious studies at Bishop of Llandaff Church in Wales comprehensive, in Cardiff, took part in a year-long, school-led consultation to produce good-practice guidelines for church schools.

She said the study of world religions, particularly Islam, was critical at a time of terrorist attacks. Islam and Judaism are now studied in all Church in Wales primaries and secondaries. But it is widely thought that another world religion should be introduced, as the focus shifts from sole emphasis on traditional Christianity.

Ms King also said more time should be allocated to RE so that older pupils can engage in philosophical discussions about religion, morality and the pressures of modern living.

She said: "This is about making pupils think and preparing them for subjects such as philosophy, which is an option here at the school for GCSE. RE can be so cross-curricular."

The KS3 framework was devised after meetings between church leaders and teachers from Bishop of Llandaff and St Teilo's Church in Wales high, both based in Cardiff, and St John Baptist Church in Wales high school in Aberdare, Rhondda Cynon Taf. It is hoped that by adopting shared schemes of work schools will raise standards in the subject.

Schools will be able to plot common themes in the teaching of RE to Years 7, 8 and 9, and introduce new ideas. Education officer for the Diocese of Llandaff, Reverend Barry Counsell, said: "This framework will make KS3 pupils ask questions. We like to think that RE at a Church in Wales school today teaches forgiveness at a time when world peace is threatened."

The collaborative framework, funded by the General Teaching Council for Wales, has sparked interest from schools outside the church fold, including Welsh-medium schools. The framework will also be available in Welsh.

The Archbishop Of Wales, the Most Reverend Dr Barry Morgan, joined RE teachers who have been working on the project over the past year for the launch.

He said: "I commend this framework. The Church in Wales has developed an approach that can only benefit young people."

Teachers plan to meet regularly to develop training for the three RE departments in the new school year.

NEWS 8-9

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