RELIGIOUS education lessons play an effective part in preventing
the misunderstanding and conflict that is often found among
different faith groups in schools, a committee of MPs said in a
report this week.
Effective RE was proving successful in countering the
misinformation, myths, and stereotypes that had become embedded in
the national psyche, the report RE and Good Community
Based on evidence given by teachers and community
representatives to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on RE, it was
launched at a Westminster seminar on Monday.
"It is vital that all young people are armed with the right
knowledge and facts to discriminate between myth and reality,"
Stephen Lloyd, MP for Eastbourne and Willingdon and chair of the
group, said. "This report shows how good RE, in teaching all world
religions, can support a school's broader responsibility to produce
knowledgeable and adaptable young people able to live harmoniously
The report calls for school-based community-relations policies
on matters of religion and belief; and the use of standing advisory
committees and other networks to promote contacts between young
people from differing backgrounds.
Those concerned about the current problems facing RE in schools
frequently cite the subject's contribution to community cohesion as
a reason for giving the subject greater prominence.
This week, the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd John Pritchard, who
chairs the Board of Education and is a constant critic of the
Government's attitude to RE, said hehoped that the new report - the
fourth on the subject this year - would result in action by
ministers. "The report makes clear that religious education is
essential if student are to understand the modern world," he
The report's conclusions were widely backed by faith
organisations. The chief executive of the Council of Christians and
Jews, David Gifford, said that it demonstrated the importance of RE
as Britain became an increasingly multicultural and
Retirement. The Revd Janina Ainsworth, chief
education officer of the Church of England, is to retire on 31
August, it was announced this week. Mrs Ainsworth, who took up the
post in 2007, is also general secretary of the National Society. An
RE specialist, Mrs Ainsworth taught at St Martin's College,
Lancaster, before joining the staff of Manchester diocese, first as
RE officer, later as diocesan education officer.
She was strongly associated with the national inquiry into the C
of E's schools, chaired by Dr Priscilla Chadwick, which resulted in
the report Church Schools of the Future, published last
year. The Rt Revd John Pritchard, Bishop of Oxford and chairman of
the Board of Education, praised Mrs Ainsworth's "calm authority and
clarity of mind".
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