KEHS pupils give evidence to the government’s Commission on Religious Education
Religious Studies students from King Edward VI High School for Girls, Birmingham have given evidence to the influential Commission on Religious Education, which is reviewing current RE provision in the UK. Its long-term aim is to improve the quality and rigour of religious education to prepare pupils better for life in modern, multi-cultural Britain
“We’re very keen to move around the country getting evidence from a wide range of people and organisations,” said RE Commissioner Dr Joyce Miller, an Associate Fellow in Warwick University’s Religions and Education Research Unit. “We’re particularly visiting centres of excellence like KEHS to hear from lots of young people.”
Several commissioners from different educational and religious roles sat in on RS lessons during their visit and questioned pupils from Year 7 upwards about the teaching they receive on a variety of religions, as well as morality, philosophy and ethics.
6 GCSE and A level students then gave presentations to the commissioners, explaining why they had chosen Religious Studies.
“It helps you understand different points of view and the philosophy underlying different religions, from Christianity and Hinduism to Islam and Buddhism,” said GCSE student Priya Kanungo, “and it makes you think about other points of view, not just your own, so you come to realise it’s not all about you.”
“RS helps you understand what is going on in the world politically too,” added Scarlett Brunning, “because so much is bound up with different religions. A lot of what is put out in the media is not true and RS also helps us think critically and not be taken in by untrue, sensationalist headlines.”
“In Birmingham this sort of study is especially important because there are so many different races, cultures and faiths, in the city and in our own school,” said Year 12 Elise Laurent-Smith. “It helps us empathise and understand where other people are coming from. If one of our friends or colleagues was a Muslim and on the Ramadan fast, for example, if we didn’t know about Islam we couldn’t understand what they were going through. At A level we also study some of the smaller religions plus philosophy and ethics, which I find absolutely fascinating.”
KEHS has a strong reputation for its RS teaching. Around 45 girls a year take it at GCSE level and virtually all achieve A* grades, while up to 15 sit it for A level with most scoring A/A*s.
“It was a privilege to host the Religious Education Commission at such an exciting, pivotal time for RE,” said Dr Rachael Jackson-Royal, KEHS Head of Religious Studies. “I’m really proud of our girls’ contributions during the Commission’s visit and particularly the very positive, thoughtful way they presented their evidence and answered questions on it. We’re now looking at further ways we might contribute to the subject in future.”