All Party Parliamentary Group on Religious Education

Parliamentary voices unite for Religious Education.

Philip Davies MP attended the first meeting of the ALL Party Parliamentary Group on Religious Education (RE) in Parliament on June 11th. The newly formed group is supported by the main political parties and will promote the highest possible standards of RE for all young people. It is set to raise awareness of the importance of the subject in all schools in Shipley. Public endorsement for high quality Religious Education (RE) is high."A recent YouGov study showed 63% of 18 - 24 year olds agreed that religious education is relevant and should be taught in schools."The subject is valued by the majority (53%) of adults in England and Wales, who say it should remain a compulsory subject and agree it is beneficial for all pupils to participate in RE lessons.

John Keast, Chair of the Religious Education Council of England and Wales, explained that the group was necessary to ensure that good quality RE was not squeezed out of the curriculum in schools."He said: "

"Issues of religion and belief are frequently at the top of the news agenda and RE helps young people make sense of this and of wider world affairs."RE is a popular subject that has been growing - over 60 per cent of all 16 year olds choose to take it at GCSE and the number studying it at A-level has more than doubled in the last 15 years."People value, support and want RE."If these figures drop as a result of other subjects being prioritised through the curriculum and in the English Baccalaureate, schools will not be able to recruit and retain specialist teachers and this will impact on how a vital and valued subject is taught."

This is the first time Religious Education in schools has had a representation in Parliament. MPs and Peers attending were given first-hand experience of RE in schools today from an enthusiastic group of GCSE and A-level students, their RE teachers and head teachers."

One of the students attending, Clare Dempsey, used the event to show her one of her own films which explain the importance of RE in helping foster relationships and build communities."She also impressed the group with a strong speech that listed five of the important issues she would not have been aware of without her RE lessons."These included environmental, societal and financial issues - as well as more obvious understandings of other faiths and beliefs.

Philip Davies MP for Shipley, said:

"While a number of all-party groups and MPs consider religion and faith as part of their wider work, this new cross-party parliamentary group will provide a focal point for British parliamentarians to work together to champion RE in schools, and to work alongside parliamentarians in all parts of the world to play an essential role in giving an often misunderstood subject a powerful voice. By excluding the subject from the English Baccalaureate, an unintentional blow has been struck which will result in a drop in pupils choosing to study RE."

He continued:

"We all share an obligation to support our education system and this group will ensure decision-makers are fully aware of the value and importance of RE in equipping our young people with an essential understanding of the world we live in."