Ewan Brady, Qualifications Product Manager
It was wonderful to welcome our Religious Studies Forum members back to Cambridge recently for the first time since March 2020. The annual forum brings together stakeholders from universities, schools, colleges, subject associations, publishers and other organisations. The discussions that we have are a great opportunity for us to hear from stakeholders and think about the subject, our qualifications, and support.
The day began with a policy update where I talked through the current educational landscape touching on: the journey to the next general election, Ofqual’s priorities, post-16 qualification reforms, proposed higher education reforms, greening the curriculum and sustainability, qualifications accessibility and inclusion, and the future of assessment.
This was followed by a subject update where I spoke about the support that we have provided recently for teachers and students for GCSE and A Level Religious Studies. This has included an updated scheme of work for GCSE RS and resources for new thinkers at A Level RS. We have also held face-to-face CPD events for teachers in London. I also spoke about the events we are attending this year, and the visits that we will make to PGCE courses in Worcester and Cambridge, online and face-to-face.
We had four speakers as part of a very busy day. First up was Paul Smalley of Edge Hill University who updated us on the progress of the Religion and Worldviews project. Rudi Lockhart, Chief Executive of the RE Council at the time, had spoken to the forum back in 2019 about the Commission on Religious Education report so it was great to hear about the progress that has been made.
Shammi Rahman of Herts for Learning followed as she spoke to us about how religious studies can support anti-racism education. Shammi has recently joined HfL from teaching and spoke at the forum back in 2020. It was useful for us and forum members to hear about the great work being done in Hertfordshire.
After lunch, David Lundie of the University of Glasgow spoke about his new research project, Teaching for digital citizenship: digital ethics in the classroom and beyond. This is an important and fascinating area, which has implications in RS, citizenship, PSHE and of course computing. There are some deeply interesting philosophical and ethical questions that we will increasingly face. David, another returning speaker, also talked about the rise of digital religion, a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Lastly, Celine Benoit of Aston University spoke to us on behalf of TRS-UK (the organization for theology and religious studies departments in UK universities) about bridging the gap between schools and universities. The goals of TRS-UK include improving the uptake of TRS at university and supporting RE/RS teachers in schools. There are opportunities for teachers to make links with universities – please see the TRS-UK website for more information.
The discussions we have are perhaps the most important part of the day at the forum. These give us the chance to discuss the talks and think about the way forward. In the morning we heard from our stakeholders how they think religion and worldviews should be approached at GCSE and A Level RS. In the afternoon we discussed ideas for promoting GCSE and A Level RS.
Thank you to our speakers on the day. All of the talks gave us and the forum members a great deal to think about. Meeting in-person again led to richer conversations and connections after two years online. We had 30 members present at the forum – our highest ever attendance. I was delighted that this included Richard Barrow, my replacement as OCR Religious Studies Subject Advisor, who will be joining us after Easter.
Share your thoughts in the comments below. If you have any questions, you can email us at email@example.com, call us on 01223 553998 or tweet us @OCR_RS. You can also sign up to subject updates and receive email information about resources and support.
Ewan is the Qualifications Product Manager for History, Religious Studies, and Law. He was previously Subject Advisor for RS for almost six years from 2017. Ewan originally joined OCR as a subject specialist in June 2014. He led the redevelopment of the new AS and A Levels in Law.
Ewan taught for 16 years in Scotland and England and held leadership roles including head of humanities, teaching subjects including history, law, politics, citizenship, and religious studies. In his spare time, Ewan enjoys walking, sport, reading, going to the cinema, and playing video games with his family.