To receive an up-date by the Challenge Adviser on the following:
(i) Religious Education Standards
(ii) Religious Education Resources
(iii) Religious Education and the Lifetime Curriculum
(iv) Religious Studies and GCSE / A Level
(a) Religious Education and the Lifelong Curriculum
Members were reminded of the main recommendations by Professor Graham Donaldson as part of the "Successful Future" curriculum, or the Lifelong Curriculum, Curriculum for Wales. One of those principles was for the curriculum to be implemented from the ground up and for it to be relevant to the local area. To this end, local SACREs were a good example of the ability to influence a local curriculum.
She elaborated further on the four objectives at the core of the new proposed curriculum, namely supporting children and young people to be:
· Ambitious, capable learners who are prepared to learn throughout their lives
· Enterprising, creative contributors, ready to play a full part in life and work
· Ethical, informed citizens of Wales and the world
· Healthy, confident individuals, ready to lead lives in which they fulfil their ambitions as valued members of society.
One of the tasks to be addressed was to ensure that the curriculum be developed to respond to the above objectives.
The GwE Challenge Adviser explained that she was a part of the Consultative Panel which met to try to draw up guidance on "what religious education was". As a result of this work, statements on "what good Religious Education was" were presented to Members and they were asked to discuss, in pairs, whether the statements contributed to the four aims. The general consensus among Members was that the statements were sufficiently clear and applicable to the four aims.
As regards the next steps, teachers present were encouraged to put the above to the test at their schools to see whether they were comfortable with the statements etc. and to send any observations arising from feedback to the GwE Challenge Advisor.
(b) GCSE / A Level
The Challenge Adviser explained that a delegation from the National Consultative Panel on Religious Education had met with Mr Gareth Pierce, WJEC. He had been given a clear message that there was concern surrounding the presentation of a GCSE specification last September which they had been put under pressure to postpone. It was noted that the specification had now been received. It was noted that the lead GwE teacher (Mefys Jones) was operating effectively in consultation with teachers in Gwynedd and Anglesey and that material would be available by June / July.
Responding to the above, concern was expressed among teachers about the changes to the GCSE specification and the fact that schools would shortly need to begin course work and that no Welsh language materials were available, and that schools' results would suffer.
It was understood that many schools in South Gwynedd offered Specification A as a selected course, and Specification B as a statutory one. It was emphasised that Religious Education was a statutory requirement for every pupil and that schools needed to interpret the requirements thoroughly in accordance with the Act. Furthermore, a study programme could be provided which referred to the requirements and which offered other relevant qualifications e.g. The Welsh Baccalaureate.
(c) Religious Education Resources
Reference was made to the following publications for resources:
· Two editions of a Religious Education e-zine published for Key Stage 3.
· Podcasts - snippets from the BBC programme "Bwrw Golwg"
· Articles by three authors (Noel Dyer, Huw Dylan and Catrin Roberts) who had recently been collaborating
(ch) External Results
The GwE Challenge Adviser reported that the results of Summer 2016 had been generally very good, with boys making good progress and the gap between the performance of girls and boys closing.
A member expressed concern that schools were losing teachers who specialised in religious education and, in this regard, the subject's status was being lost.
In response, the GwE Challenge Adviser noted that schools were required to collaborate mainly due to budgetary cuts and that some schools, consequently, lacked Heads of Department. In terms of the subject's status, the previous thematic review by ESTYN on Religious Education did not express any concerns about the quality of lessons by teachers who were not subject specialists.
Resolved: To accept, note and thank the Challenge Advisor for the above information.