RE still lags behind many subjects in development and use of IT skills. With funding from the Dulverton Trust, the Professional Council for RE is about to launch a three-year project aiming to help teachers use IT better in RE.
The project, to be formally launched in 1998, will help RE teachers and those who provide IT products for RE to work closely together. Jeremy Taylor, who set up the project during his time as PCfRE chairman, says: "It might help RE teachers gain competence and confidence with IT, and spur producers to improve RE products. The Internet provides amazing opportunities for global sharing of religious ideas, if only teachers can develop Net use with pupils."
Religious education has a particular contribution to make to IT learning by raising the issue of com-puters' impact on young people's lives. RE teachers often have special skills in this area.
Dr Brian Gates, of St Martin's College, Lancaster, has set up the Internet site RE XS, a gateway to an international directory for teachers interested in beliefs and values. He is feeding ideas into the PCfRE project. He says: "RE teachers need to realise the value of schools being on-line. It's an area of concern and interest to young people. The Internet provides huge, cheap and increasingly interactive resources about all the major religions."
RE XS also provides a point of exchange for teachers. "This term, a group of secondary teachers is sharing, developing and refining curriculum materials for common use," Dr Gates says.
The PCfRE project aims to bring teachers, academics and resource providers together. Jane Dengel, RE co-ordinator at Kingstone School in Barnsley, Yorkshire, has been developing IT through RE for two years. She sees herself as an RE specialist, with no particular background in IT, but she became involved in the project to share resources, ideas and concerns. "RE needs IT," she says. "It enhances pupils' work and enjoyment. Software is often expensive, but I use a lot of encyclopedias, newspapers, and clip art. We keep an eye on CD-Roms and buy what we can afford.
"We're part of the Comenius project, and are linking with schools in Italy, Portugal and Germany."
Over three years, the project aims to establish a database of teachers and resource providers, run training events, encourage and spread good practice and organise two open conferences for RE teachers.
To join the database, contact:
Jeremy Taylor, email: cem@cem. org.uk
PCfRE, Royal Buildings, Victoria Street, Derby DE1 lGW. Fax: 01332 343253
PCfRE's web pages can be found at www.cem.org.uk