RE battles its way back into the fold
In quoting from my Templeton lecture at the Royal Society of Arts, Christopher Price misses the main thrust of its argument. There was a very encouraging response to my call for a national collaboration on RE in which the total becomes much greater than the sum of the parts. For instance, plans are in hand for a national RE festival and Government has initiated a half GCSE in RE in concert with the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority and the exam boards. A broad consensus now exists about the subject's educational rationale and purpose which is contained in SCAA's preface to the model agreed syllabuses. There is a growing confidence among RE professionals that RE is a proper subject; that religion is a universal dimension of human experience and that a pupil's education is deficient if this aspect is not covered.
It is encouraging that new Labour recognises all this. At a conference in March at the Royal Society of Arts, an official spokesperson from Labour's parliamentary education team gave strong backing to RE. I have every confidence that having jettisoned 1960s thinking in other areas, Labour will not be tempted by Christopher Price to go back to 1960s thinking on RE. All the signs are that Labour's new realism has been extended to the value of RE as a curriculum subject in its own right which makes a positive and distinctive contribution to education overall.
JOHN D GAY Culham College Institute 60 East St Helen Street Abingdon, Oxfordshire