Full-blown academisation will mean that in effect RE will become optional!!
Those wanting to challenge the current legal muddles around RE are facing a period of deep frustration. I recently attended an RE fringe event at the Tory Conference with the new Chair of the Education Select Committee, Neil Carmichael. The messages were clear:
- The current settlement for RE is out of date and needs reform to support improvement in RE
- This Government is set against any discussion of legal change – that will be their top priority as far as RE is concerned – they want to do NOTHING!
- Any Government rhetoric around the importance of RE is superficial; the reality is they aren’t interested – the risks of opening up debate outweigh the benefits
- They are very likely to be in power until 2025 – hope for the best, plan for the worst!
- They are going to drive through their favoured policy – all schools to be free, academies or part of multi-academy trusts (MATs) as soon as possible
- The ‘rules’ around RE in academies are so vague that almost anything goes; we are already seeing some academies abandon any meaningful provision for RE
- Some SACREs are now effectively dysfunctional; none can survive full blown academisation
- The solution of adding RE to the National Curriculum will become an irrelevance if the Government achieve their goal of turning all/most schools into academies or free schools ….. they don’t have to follow the NC
- The debate about whether faith schools should follow a new national RE curriculum ‘minimum entitlement for all pupils’ would also be irrelevant if those schools are academies or parts of MATs. They will be free to ignore any NC and do their ‘own’ thing.