Education Conference to spotlight RE, the Cinderella subject

At a time when religious education, (RE), is being seen as the Cinderella subject in schools, the annual Leeds Diocesan Education Conference of head teachers and school governors this month will highlight its importance for a healthy society.

 ‘Schools Transforming Lives, Transforming Communities’, the annual Diocese of Leeds Schools Conference at the Queen’s Hotel Leeds on Friday 16 March, will be focusing on the importance of RE in educating young people for a better society which promotes mutual understanding and community cohesion.

Speakers will include the  Bishop of Ely, the Rt Revd Stephen Conway (pictured left), the Church of England’s bishop for education, Professor Mark Pike, Professor of Education at the University of Leeds, Lat Blaylock, the editor of RE Today magazine and a national RE adviser in the UK, and Darrell Woodman,  a trainer and Director of Art of Brilliance Ltd.

Head teachers and school governors from many of the Diocese of Leeds’  242 Church Schools will be taking part in the conference as well as senior leaders from associated schools.

News reports earlier this year highlighted that in 2017-18, only 405 of initial teacher training places in England for RE were filled - well below the target of 643. RE is  seen by many trainee teachers as the ‘Cinderella’ subject.  Despite RE being compulsory in secondary schools, more than a quarter fail to offer RE and the Religious Education Council of England and Wales warned  that a shortage of religious education teachers could contribute to religious stereotyping and discrimination, leaving pupils at risk of becoming ignorant, or bigoted.

Director of Education, Richard Noake said the Conference on March 16 will be “affirming, but will also challenging”.

“Schools should be places where children flourish and experience ‘life in all its fullness’ “ he says.  “There will be a focus at the Conference on the importance, broadly, of religious education, of educating about religion …and that in doing that we contribute to community’s understanding of each other and to live together better." 

He added, “It’s about the school ethos and it particularly chimes with things that Her Majesty’s  Chief Inspector of Schools, Amanda Spielman, has been saying over the past year or so - that even from an Ofsted HMI point of view education needs to be more than just the narrow focus on literacy and numeracy but a much broader inspection of what is being provided that will draw out from each individual child their ultimate purpose and their contribution.”

The School Leaders’ Conference 2018 – ‘Schools Transforming Lives, Transforming Communities’ – take place at The Queens Hotel, Leeds, on Friday 16 March 2018. The conference is open to all senior leaders in Church Schools throughout the diocese, with some places still available. More information : www.leeds.anglican.org/education/events/2018-03

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