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Inter Faith Week 2012 begins today, Sunday 18th Nov
Inter Faith Week 2012 in England, Northern Ireland and Wales begins today, on Sunday 18th November, and to mark this event we’ve featured various “faith & goverment” related updates for you here, courtesy of the UK Inter Faith Network.
Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, has said:
“Once again Inter Faith Week is upon us, and people of different faiths in neighbourhoods around the country are coming together to celebrate, to learn about each other, to work together on joint projects – and above all to have fun. Our society functions so much better when there are no barriers of ignorance and suspicion to keep us apart; and the realisation that different faiths have so much in common, and so much to contribute, is a vital part of removing those barriers. That is where Inter Faith Week and the work of the Inter Faith Network in general are so important, and I warmly congratulate all participants in the Week.”
If you are planning to mark the Week by running an event, please do take a few minutes to register your event on the Inter Faith Week website at www.interfaithweek.org. There is also a printable paper registration form, and a new facility enabling you to add multiple events at the same time. Registering your event is very helpful to other people who would like to find an event to attend and also helps strengthen the effectiveness of the Week overall through conveying the wide range of activities.
Just a few examples of events planned are: a faith leaders’ conference, organised by Thurrock Faith Matters; a ‘celebrating our faiths’ event, organised by South Lakeland Interfaith Forum; an ‘inter faith tour’ in South Cardiff, organised by the Cardiff Third Sector Council; an inter faith netball tournament, organised by Thames Valley Police; an event ‘Mohiniyattam’, organised by Manasamitra and York Minster; and ‘A Celebration of Faiths’, organised by Eastbourne’s Faiths Forum. Some local inter faith bodies such as Kirklees Faiths Forum and Suffolk Inter-Faith Resource are helping enable programmes of events running through the Week.
Schools in many areas are gearing up to take part. Education Secretary, Michael Gove, has said:
“Without doubt the constructive working and mutual understanding between faiths in this country is one of our greatest strengths. Educating children about different faiths is of immense importance in leading children to understand the history that has helped shape the values and traditions of this country, and of other countries and cultures. The extended Inter Faith Week that will take place in November this year gives even more opportunity for schools and young people to participate, and I hope they will take advantage of this to build new partnerships and celebrate the diversity that exists across the UK.”
For further information about Inter Faith Week and the UK Inter Faith Network, contact Ashley Beck at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 020 7730 0410.
Scottish Inter Faith Week runs from 25th November until 1st December. Further information is available from Interfaith Scotland at www.scottishinterfaithcouncil.org.
Round table discussions on religion or belief
In October, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) commissioned the Religious Literacy Leadership Programme at Goldsmiths, University of London, working in partnership with the Coexist Foundation, to explore a number of key religion or belief themes. The Government Equalities Office is partnering the EHRC on this project.
Six half-day dialogue events are planned for early 2013 with invited participants drawn from employment and public service stakeholders and religion or belief organisations. While the topics are still being finalised, each event is expected to include input from an expert followed by facilitated discussion. It is envisaged that summary reports of each event will be published on the EHRC website, with further discussion and debate being encouraged through a blog on the Goldsmiths’ website. The overall aim of the project is to seek to increase mutual understanding and consensus between groups as a way of reducing divisive litigation in this area.
Further information can be found on the Goldsmiths’ website at http://www.gold.ac.uk/news/pressrelease/?releaseID=971.
National RE Subject Review
The Religious Education Council (REC) is currently undertaking a National RE Subject Review, running alongside the Government’s National Curriculum Review. A Scoping Report, commissioned to outline the scope of the Subject Review, identified four main areas of focus for the Review: Aims and Purposes; Curriculum; Exemplifications of Good Practice; Assessment and Qualifications.
Phase 1 of the Review, in which an expert panel were commissioned to draw together a report on the current state of RE, along with recommendations around the four areas of focus, is nearing completion, with the final consultative stage now in process. Subsequent Phases of the Review process will take the Review forward, and it is intended that the Review will be completed during 2013. Further background to the Subject Review can be found on the REC’s website at http://www.religiouseducationcouncil.org/content/view/254/100/.
Concerns about the position on RE
As noted in the September e-Bulletin, it was announced by the Education Minister and Deputy Prime Minister that the Government plans to replace GCSEs – the standard qualification examinations taken by 16 year olds in England – with the newly established English Baccalaureate (EBC). The press release can be found at www.education.gov.uk/inthenews/inthenews/a00213908/oral-statement-ks4-exam-reform. Under this system, pupils who undertake courses from a particular pool of subjects would qualify for an English Baccalaureate award.
Religious Education is not among the qualifying subjects, and this has led to concerns that a weakening of RE provision in schools may occur as a result, with schools diverting resources to those subjects which enable pupils to attain this new award. Research carried out by the National Association of Teachers of RE (NATRE) suggests that a number of schools have already downsized RE provision in response to the emergence of the EBC. Provision of RE is still a statutory requirement in the majority of maintained schools.
The Religious Education Council (REC) has been leading a campaign, along with other bodies including the National Association of Standing Advisory Councils on Religious Education (NASACRE) and NATRE, to encourage Government to rethink its position on the exclusion of RE from the English Baccalaureate. In recent weeks, the REC has written to Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and to the Education Minister Michael Gove, noting the importance of RE for building good inter faith relations and reducing prejudice. These letters – the latter of which notes Michael Gove’s support for Inter Faith Week and its relevance to the position on RE – can be viewed on the REC website at www.religiouseducationcouncil.org.
BBC coverage of religion, immigration and Europe
An independent impartiality review of the BBC’s breadth of opinion, led by former ITV chief executive Stuart Prebble, will include scrutiny of the BBC’s coverage of religion, immigration and Europe. It is due to report in early 2013. Further information about the Review can be found at: www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/news/press_releases/2012/breadth_of_opinion.html