AHRC M3C and WRoCAH DTP Policy Engagement Workshop: Religion Education Government Policy

ERI Building, G51
Wednesday 9 December 2015 (13:00-16:00)

In recent public debate it has been argued that the teaching of religion in state schools could aid social cohesion, particularly since we are living in such a pluralist society. 

Schools and universities provide formal, safe spaces for students to encounter and explore differences of belief.  However, a good case can be made to suggest that during the last decade Religious Education has been neglected in favour of other subjects as conceded by the former Education Secretary Michael Gove This brought with it a side-lining of the value of religious education.

Looking at the world today, it is hard to overstate the importance of equipping young people with a challenging and rigorous education that includes religious literacy.

Through presentations and discussions this session will look at whether the proposed changes to RE will facilitate this (covering two religions at GCSE level), and look at Professor Woodhead and Charles Clarke’s recent report which argues that in a diverse and multi religious society religious education should support students in their understanding of individuals who hold different beliefs, whether these are explicitly religious or not.  

This will be supplemented by a discussion of how academics can or should take part and shape this debate at a national policy level and looking ahead at directions of academic research that can play a constructive and pro-active role in shaping public policy on this increasingly pressing global and national issue.

Contributions from curriculum designers, religious leaders and policy makers:  Andrew Copson, Baroness Berridge,  Professor Francis Davis, Alison Young, and Revd Canon Jane Brooke.


  • 12:30-13:00 Lunch (RSVP BB-Midlands3Cities@exmail.nottingham.ac.uk by 1 December please)
  • 13:00-15:00pm Panel presentations
    Six panellists will speak for 20 minutes each and address a variety of issues on religious education:
  • 13:00-13:20 Reverend Jane Brooke (Canon Chancellor at Chester Cathedral with extensive experience first as a teacher and then advisor and School Inspector for RE nationally) The Quality ofReligious Education in the UK Today: An Overview.
  • 13:20-13:40 Andrew Copson (Chief Executive, The British Humanist Association) Religious Education in the UK Today: Humanist Perspectives
  • 13:40-14:00 Professor Francis Davis (Honorary Professor in the Department of Theology and Religion at the University of Birmingham, where he also serves on the leadership of the Edward Cadbury Centre for the Public Understanding of Religion) Religious Education in the UK Today: Perspectives on Public Policy and Communities
  • 14:00-14:20 Dr Sarah Hall (Lecturer in Religious Education in the School of Education at the University of Birmingham) Religious Education in the UK Today: Academic Perspectives
  • 14:20-14:40 Alison Young (Head of RE King Edward VI High School for Girls in Birmingham) Young People’s Responses to Religious Education: A Practitioner’s Perspectives
  • 14:40-15:10 Networking Break with Refreshments
  • 15:10-15:40 Plenary Discussion and Collective Articulation of Future Research Projects
  • 15:40-16:00 Baroness Elizabeth BerridgeConcluding Reflections on Academic/Parliamentary Engagement: Baroness Berridge is a working peer in the House of Lords and Principal Investigator for the Commonwealth Initiative for the Freedom of Religion or Belief project hosted in the Edward Cadbury Centre for the Public Understanding of Religion at the University of Birmingham.