Contrary to popular opinion, Religious Education is alive and well in Birmingham – especially in the primary schools. Since 2006, Sue Fearon, leader of the BCM Children’s Team, has been a member of SACRE (Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education) and a member of the ASC (Agreed Syllabus Conference). She has contributed extensively to the schemes of work used in most Birmingham primary schools since 2007. As mentioned in Rachel’s article, members of the BCM Children’s Team model teaching Christian RE lessons, based on Birmingham SACRE schemes of work, across the city.
The 2007 Birmingham Agreed Syllabus for Religious Education moved away from a traditional approach centred upon religious practice and instead the focus is upon religious belief and the building of religious character. You will be pleased to know that those lessons in the syllabus that look at Christianity are centred on what the Bible says about God, including the life and works of Jesus; and also what the Bible teaches about 24 specified character dispositions which include: honesty, courage, mercy, forgiveness, personal integrity, generosity, suffering, caring and loyalty. Children are expected to have access to Bibles, which are often used in RE lessons.
SACRE is just beginning the process of reviewing the 2007 syllabus. Already, some groups are talking about a significant rewrite of lesson material; organisations holding non-religious world views are seeking an atheistic perspective to be reflected in the syllabus; and considerable discussion is anticipated regarding how the RE syllabus and schemes of work should and will approach the tensions between religious and political views of diversity and equality in respect of personal relationships.
Please can we encourage you to pray regularly and earnestly for those involved in the review process over the next 18-24 months.
SACRE FACTS & FIGURES*
• 98.5% of primary pupils are offered RE in school
• 80% of primary schools follow the local Birmingham Agreed Syllabus (Academies are able to decide the RE that they follow and devise)
• 55% of primary schools use lesson plans on the SACRE website
• Every child in the city has access, appropriate to their school’s designation, to RE which respects children’s heritage background, but also ensures that their exposure to religious traditions is, in the main, Christian
*Taken from ‘The 2015-2017 Monitoring and Evaluation of the Delivery of RE and CW in Birmingham’
Bibles for Schools initiative
For pupils to engage with the Bible in RE lessons, schools need a class set (30+1 teacher’s copy) per key stage. Many schools do not have Bibles. Some schools are seeking help to fund this important resource. Other schools have not realised that such sponsorship might be possible. BCM Children’s Team has already linked two schools to churches wishing to buy Bibles for use in RE lessons. If you would like to see Bibles in the hands of school children, find out more by calling 0121 766 6603.
NB: The Bibles must be the two particular versions specified by the Birmingham SACRE schemes of work.
Assembly opportunities for churches
Open the Book is a UK-wide assembly programme that is used to reach over half a million children with classic Bible stories during Acts of Collective Worship (assemblies). Most schools currently served by Open the Book teams are in rural areas with little or no diversity in the local population. BCM is facilitating an urban pilot scheme whereby Open the Book is making subtle changes to their programme in order to meet the needs of schools in cities. A series of training opportunities are available. Sessions are open to anyone interested in sharing Bible stories with children in Birmingham and the surrounding area.
Click here for full details of courses available in the Autumn term.